by Matt Slick
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing," (James 1:2-4, NASB).
Are you comfortable? Do you feel safe in the Lord? I hope so. You should. Comfort and peace are great blessings from the Lord. He loves us so much that He gave His Son and sent the Holy Spirit who is called The Comforter (John 14:26, KJV). We are secure in Him (John 10:27-28), can rest in Him (Matt. 11:28), and don't need to be anxious for anything (Phil. 4:6). We have a great and awesome God who has made all this possible.
However, sometimes comfort can be a stumbling block. Sometimes comfort can rob us of our strength and dependence on God. Think of a man who is so comfortable in his life with so few problems that he doesn't do much of anything let alone worry about anything. He relaxes and enjoys life. He also becomes weak and dependent upon his routine and life. So, too, the Christian, who is very comfortable in his life, can also become weak and dependent upon the securities of life instead of the Lord. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable unless that comfort makes us depend on God less and cause us to become complacent about the lost around us.
Where the early Christians had to rely on God for their every need, today in America and much of the modern world creature-comforts and drive-through churches have made many Christians complacent and sluggish. Most (I hope) are saved, but it seems that far too many have settled into the church routine: Sunday service, maybe Wednesday, too, don't share their faith much, pray when a need arises, enjoy life, tithe occasionally, let pastors and missionaries do the hard spiritual work, etc. In this mode, the call of God to make disciples of every nation is a faint whisper that if listened to can only cause inconvenience and a disruption of Christian comforts. Are you one of those Christians? Are you so comfortable in your life that you aren't concerned about the lost, don't depend on God, tithe infrequently, and hardly seek God's face?
God has blessed us in America. We have the best of everything and only need to put on credit what our whims demand. We have our VCRs, air-conditioning, remote controls, and fast food restaurants. We have churches with central air, great sound systems, well-educated preachers, plush pews, and fine-tuned choirs, pianos, and organs. We are blessed with committees, plans, and money. In fact, we have so many churches that we are guaranteed we can find one to suit any whim or preference. Unfortunately, all too often the messages are pleasant and don't make our hearts ache for the lost or for our Lord. This is a recipe for danger. We are truly blessed. But, those blessings can become curses if they weaken our desires to live for God and reach the lost.
God sometimes allows trials and tribulations in our lives in order to get us to look to Him. Struggle tends to strengthen faith because in struggle we turn to God. He answers our prayers and provides our needs, and we in turn praise Him. In this process, the Holy Spirit is alive in us, working mightily, and we sense His teaching us, guiding us, shaping us. That is why whenever we are close to God, we are far from sin. Whenever we are close to God, we are aware of our ungodliness. Whenever we are close to God, we are concerned for the lost--because He is. Are you far from sin? Are you aware of your ungodliness? Are you concerned for the lost?
Therefore, I ask you. Have you become distracted from the calling of God to grow in grace and make disciples of all nations? I am not talking about doing your duty of going to church on Sunday and reading your Bible occasionally. I'm talking about making headway, actively seeking God, being willing take risks for Him, asking to be used, asking to be shaped, etc. Are you doing that? If not, maybe you are too comfortable.
So what should we do?
Please understand that I am not advocating poverty and misery as a way of measuring the Christian life. There is nothing wrong with being comfortable, having money, or remote control TV's, and air-conditioned cars. We should praise God for these. But, you need to ask yourself if your life has become filled with a familiarity with comfort and with the "Christian life" that you are simply in a routine that has unwittingly numbed you to the spiritual realities of life. If you think that maybe you have backslidden in this way, then I have some suggestions.
First of all, pray to the Lord and ask Him to reveal your sins to you. Confess them and do your best to repent as you continue to rely on His grace. Second, read your Bible regularly and ask the Lord to apply to your heart what you read. Third, ask God to put a desire on your heart that is in accordance with your spiritual giftings so that you may not only grow and edify the body of Christ but also to reach out to the lost. If you don't know what your spiritual gifts are, that's okay. God will show you. Fourth, don't be afraid to take risks for the Lord. Don't be afraid to become a little uncomfortable. Tithe. Pray. Intercede. Read the Word. Confess your sins. Speak the gospel.
Remember, our life is not about our comforts. It is about loving God, loving others, and spreading the Word of God.