Photo by Lisa Fotios: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-laying-on-sofa-while-reading-book-1471991/
Fighting the Idol of Comfort
Michael wondered why he had agreed to this. He stood with one foot on the float plane pylon, trying to encourage himself that everything would be ok. He was about to set out on a hunting trip in the Alaskan Wilderness with only what he and his guide could carry on their backs. The pilot was known for being skilled, one of the best in the area. He even pointed out that he had survived a crash that very week! Was that meant to be reassuring?
Once the plane had dropped them off, there would be no contact with the outside world until they made it to the pick up point thirty-three days later. That meant no comfy hotels, no convenience stores, no food caches, not even cell service or Netflix to keep him company. He was hesitant, he was nervous, he was certain he was slightly crazy, and yet he knew he had to go through with this, because he was fighting for his life. He had to go to an extreme to break free from the meaningless, comfort-driven, purposeless rut he was stuck in.
In his book The Comfort Crisis, Michael Easter tells the story of his journey from allowing his life to be led along without direction or purpose, with comfort as his primary driving force, to one of taking control and making hard decisions and sacrifices to become a better person. He says that our passion for comfort is one of the main things that is killing us. If every element of our lives has to be finely tuned, climate controlled, and perfectly ordered to be enjoyed, then we’re easily derailed by small problems, which ultimately leaves us unprepared for big problems. Our lack of exercise and passion for processed foods also leaves our bodies weak. Neil Postman made a similar point about our minds in his book with the title that says it all: Amusing Ourselves to Death. Feeling encouraged yet?
Here’s the point of all this. I’m not inherently against a comfortable life. Yet there is a valuable warning here: when comfort becomes our God, it will kill us. But the response to idolizing comfort is not to then swing to the other extreme and idolize discomfort, but rather to focus on following Christ. We don’t follow the maxim of one well known ultra-marathon runner who says “you must become a disciple of discipline.” That sounds powerful and catchy, but discipline itself doesn’t give eternal life. Instead I must become a disciple of Jesus first and foremost. And listen, I love pursuing a disciplined life. I love getting up early to study the Bible. I love having my day planned out and carving out time to read and exercise, but I don’t make discipline my salvation.
One of the first verses we memorized as a church was Luke 9:23, “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me.” The very essence of our faith is based not on comfort, but on sacrifice. Hebrews 12:2 says that Jesus is “the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross.” Jesus chose suffering on our behalf. He chose it because he knew that giving glory to His Father was greater than the fear of suffering (Colby made a similar point this Sunday while teaching from Isaiah 6:1-8).
As you go about ordering your week, make sure to give the first fruits of your day to following Christ. He is the one who sustains you, who gives ultimate life, who loves you more than you’ll ever know. It is by following Him and becoming His disciple that God will open doors for you to tell others about Him.
Reach out to one person this month
In light of that, I want you to know one specific thing I’ve been praying for this month. Almost every week I meet someone who says some version of the same thing: “We haven’t been back since COVID, and now it’s time.” Would you join me in praying for those in this boat? Pray that God would lead those who have not returned to church back to our doors. Pray for God to lay one person on your heart this month who you haven’t seen in a while. Take the step of faith to simply reach out to them and see how they are doing.
I believe God is at work at Valley View. So many exciting things are happening. The Fellowship Hall remodel is in progress. Plans for starting Wednesday night suppers again are developing. We’re about to celebrate our 85th anniversary as a church. These are exciting days and God is on the move in Southwest Louisville!