Strong spirits: comfort has a downside too
Do you like to be comfortable? Yeah, me too! I like it so much that sometimes it's hard to get me to do what I know I need to do, because it will disrupt my comfort. And believe me, I know there is real value in comfort as a means to soothe, restore, and revive us.
But comfort has a downside, too. Too much of it and we get lazy, complacent, indifferent. We can revere it so much that we refuse to do anything that will disturb it. An over-attention to comfort will keep us from being fully the people we are called to be. Pretty much all great achievements were accomplished by people willing to sacrifice comfort for a greater good. The question is, are we willing?
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me." Jesus to his friends (Matthew 16:24)
"We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed." the apostle Paul on being a disciple of Christ (2 Corinthians:8,9)
"Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil because of (me)" Jesus to his followers (Luke 6:20-22)
It is said of the Holy Spirit that his work is to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable.
Where are you in this equation?
Gary Schwerin serves as pastor at Caledonia Congregational Church. He is also the Spiritual Development Minister for the YMCA of the Rock River Valley and Executive Director of Bridge Ministries of Rockford. Prior to launching Bridge Ministries, Gary spent many years in leadership with Young Life. His column appears every Sunday.
Editor's note: While looking for photos to illustrate this article, I was inspired by the plaques and stories from London, England's Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, established in 1900 in Postmans Park, near St. Paul's Cathedral.