Comfortable being Uncomfortable
A very natural inclination for people is to seek out comfort in this life. We gravitate towards a desire for physical, material, or relational comfort. We are always consciously moving towards making our lives more comfortable. This is why we choose the most comfortable chair to sit in, or the best fitting pair of shoes. This is why we work so hard to save money and prepare for our future, in order to provide ourselves with our standard of material comfort. This is why we seek out those people in our lives whose demeanor makes us feel the most comfortable to be around. We as people actively seek out comfort in our lives. Comfort manifests itself mostly in our need to be in control.
There is a problem with comfort when we are challenged with some words from Jesus Christ. In Matthew’s Gospel, shortly after Peter confesses that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the living God, and right after Jesus rebukes Peter for denying that Jesus should have to die, we hear some uncomfortable words from Jesus spoken directly to His disciples.
Jesus tells His disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it.” Now if we truly take these words of Jesus to heart, then any expectation of comfort we might have for ourselves gets thrown out the window.
What Jesus is saying here is entirely radical in terms of our view of comfort. What Jesus is essentially saying is that if you want to follow Me, then you should get comfortable with being uncomfortable. To deny ourselves and take up our cross is to cast aside our desire for our own comfort, at the expense of being entirely obedient to the command of God for our lives. This type of radical obedience--this type of radical denial of comfort for the sake of Christ--is exactly what Christians are called to do in this life.
Christians are called first and foremost to be holy and set apart for God’s works which He has established for us. Whether we find any self-perceived comfort for God’s dealings in our life is irrelevant. Radical obedience is what we are called to by Jesus, and this mindset is something that has gotten watered down drastically since Biblical times.
We must consider that, in this message spoken by Jesus to His disciples, all but one of the them died proclaiming the Gospel message. The beginning of God’s Church saw thousands upon thousands of people coming to repentance in short periods of time. God’s people were contagious and uniquely distinct within their own societies. We cannot simply jump to the conclusion of “that was then and this is now” when nothing about the message has changed. The only question to ask is have we changed?
Maybe our self-perceived desire for comfort has co-mingled with the reality behind the words of Jesus telling us to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and lose our life for the sake of Christ? Maybe our unwillingness to truly be uncomfortable for the sake of God’s Kingdom is somewhere we are not willing to go to? At the end of the day our effort to provide comfort in this life is really just based off of our wanting to be in control.
Being in control is the ultimate source of comfort for anyone is this life, but with Jesus we are called to a different way of a life; a way of life I found best described by C.S. Lewis in his book titled Mere Christianity. Lewis wrote, “Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end…keep nothing back. Nothing that you have not given away will be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.”
C.S. Lewis is speaking of a peace that surpasses all understanding. A peace that comes through Jesus Christ alone. A peace that will provide you with lasting comfort in this life… and the life to come. It is beyond our control and beyond our desire for comfort. It is Godly, it is holy, and it is right.