I Call You to Discomfort

Man, I am com­fort­able. I’m sit­ting at my desk in my heated office. My wife just called and informed me that soup is on the stove, even though I’m still a lit­tle full from lunch. My car runs quite well. I have a pay­check com­ing every two weeks. My health is great. I have enough out­fits in my wardrobe to last me for quite a few days in between laun­dry loads.
What a Dis­ney­land Amer­ica is.

It is com­fort­able, isn’t it? We are so “blessed.” God has been work­ing me over about this recently. I am so com­fort­able, yes. But, what risks am I tak­ing for His king­dom? I am preach­ing a series on Matthew 5–7, and I am lay­ing out the ways to be truly blessed. More and more I find, that we are most blessed when we are most uncom­fort­able on earth for Christ’s name sake. Think about it, when I am uncom­fort­able with my sin­ful wicked con­di­tion (poor in spirit), I am blessed. When I am so uncom­fort­able I weep (mourn), I am blessed. When I am uncom­fort­able with my strength, liv­ing in God’s infi­nite abil­ity (meek), I am blessed. When I am uncom­fort­able with what I can get from the world, and I hunger and thirst after right­eous­ness, I am blessed. The list goes on in the same pat­tern. It closes with, when I am in the most uncom­fort­able place for my faith, per­se­cu­tion, I am happy, bliss­ful, blessed. Wow.
I need some edu­ca­tion on what a com­fort­able Chris­t­ian is. I need some seri­ous learn­ing on what God expects of my life. It’s time to take up my cross. God has called us to a life of deny­ing our com­fort for His Name’s sake. Of course, it is totally worth it. The plea­sures of liv­ing in the pres­ence of God are full­ness of joy forever­more! The joys are the king­dom of heaven! The life that is uncom­fort­able here on earth longs for the hope of glory!
What dis­com­fort are you allow­ing your­self to be vul­ner­a­ble to for the gospel sake? Are you shar­ing your faith and open­ing your­self up to mock­ery and shame or even pain? Are you sac­ri­fi­cially giv­ing to oth­ers not know­ing what may hap­pen to God’s money? Are you open­ing your life in hos­pi­tal­ity not know­ing if the car­pet will get stained and the dishes chipped? Is your life trans­par­ent enough for you to show that you strug­gle and depend on God, or is your fas­cad up and run­ning, deciev­ing oth­ers into a high view of you? God calls us to a life of risk for His sake. But the joy is that in that dis­com­fort there is a great com­fort. The hope of glory. Fel­low­ship with our Sav­ior.
So, God, I throw my emo­tions and pride and self-reliance onto the cross and take it up. For it is there that I see you. And in that I hope to say with Paul … I rejoice … for I am fill­ing up what is lack­ing in Christ’s afflic­tions for the sake of his body, that is, the church. (Colos­sians 1:24)
If you are inter­ested in more along this line, I came across this Fresh Words by John Piper. He says it much bet­ter than I could…and in a dif­fer­ent way.
Call for Chris­t­ian Risk
John Piper
The Orig­i­nal Arti­cle
By remov­ing eter­nal risk, Christ calls his peo­ple to con­tin­ual tem­po­ral risk.
For the fol­low­ers of Jesus the final risk is gone. “There is now no con­dem­na­tion for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). “Nei­ther death nor life … will be able to sep­a­rate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 3:38–39). “Some of you they will put to death.… But not a hair of your head will per­ish” (Luke 21:16, 18). “Who­ever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
When the threat of death becomes a door to par­adise the final bar­rier to tem­po­ral risk is bro­ken. When a Chris­t­ian says from the heart, “To live is Christ and to die is gain,” he is free to love no mat­ter what. Some forms of rad­i­cal Islam may entice martyr-murderers with sim­i­lar dreams, but Chris­t­ian hope is the power to love, not kill. Chris­t­ian hope pro­duces life-givers, not life-takers. The cru­ci­fied Christ calls his peo­ple to live and die for their ene­mies, as he did. The only risks per­mit­ted by Christ are the per­ils of love. “Love your ene­mies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you” (Luke 6:27–28).
With stag­ger­ing promises of ever­last­ing joy, Jesus unleashed a move­ment of rad­i­cal, lov­ing risk-takers. “You will be deliv­ered up even by par­ents … and some of you they will put to death” (Luke 21:16). Only some. Which means it might be you and it might not. That’s what risk means. It is not risky to shoot your­self in the head. The out­come is cer­tain. It is risky to serve Christ in a war zone. You might get shot. You might not.
Christ calls us to take risks for king­dom pur­poses. Almost every mes­sage of Amer­i­can con­sumerism says the oppo­site: Max­i­mize com­fort and secu­rity — now, not in heaven. Christ does not join that cho­rus. To every timid saint, waver­ing on the edge of some dan­ger­ous gospel ven­ture, he says, “Fear not, you can only be killed” (Luke 12:4). Yes, by all means max­i­mize your joy! How? For the sake of love, risk being reviled and per­se­cuted and lied about, “for your reward is great in heaven” (Matthew 5:11–12).
There is a great bib­li­cal legacy of lov­ing risk-takers. Joab, fac­ing the Syr­i­ans on one side and the Ammonites on the other, said to his brother Abishai, “Let us be coura­geous for our peo­ple … and may the LORD do what seems good to him” (2 Samuel 10:12). Esther broke the royal law to save her peo­ple and said, “If I per­ish, I per­ish” (Esther 4:16). Shadrach and his com­rades refused to bow down to the king’s idol and said, “Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us … But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods” (Daniel 3:16–18). And when the Holy Spirit told Paul that in every city impris­on­ment and afflic­tions await him, he said, “I do not account my life of any value nor as pre­cious to myself, if only I may fin­ish my course” (Acts 20:24).
“Every Chris­t­ian,” said Stephen Neil about the early church, “knew that sooner or later he might have to tes­tify to his faith at the cost of his life” (A His­tory of Chris­t­ian Mis­sions, Pen­guin, 1964, p. 43). This was nor­mal. To become a Chris­t­ian was to risk your life. Tens of thou­sands did it. Why? Because to do it was to gain Christ, and not to was to lose your soul. “Who­ever would save his life will lose it, but who­ever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
In Amer­ica and around the world the price of being a real Chris­t­ian is ris­ing. Things are get­ting back to nor­mal in “this present evil age.” Increas­ingly 2 Tim­o­thy 3:12 will make sense: “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be per­se­cuted.” Those who’ve made gospel-risk a vol­un­tary life-style will be most ready when we have no choice. There­fore I urge you, in the words of the early church, “Let us go to him out­side the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no last­ing city, but we seek the city that is to come” (Hebrews 13:13–14). When God removed all risk above / He loosed a thou­sand risks of love.
Pas­tor John
The Orig­i­nal Arti­cle
©Desir­ing God


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