TOO COMFORTABLE CHURCH
Do other interests rise above the personal comfort of the members?
by Tim Endecott
I take some issues with this article, and will comment as we go - Keith Hunt
Two sisters inherited the family ranch and soon found they needed to purchase a herd bull. The older one balanced the checkbook and took their last $600 to another ranch out west, where a prize bull was for sale. She told her younger sis, "If I buy the bull, you can drive the truck out and haul it home." The older sister arrived at the ranch, inspected the bull, and decided to buy. The owner said; his price was $599, no less. So she gave him $599.
After paying the farmer, the older sister drove to the nearest telegraph office to send her sister the news. She told the operator, "I want to send a telegram to my sister telling her that I've bought the bull and that I need her to hitch the trailer up and drive out so we can haul it home."
The operator said he'd be glad to help but that the cost was ninety-nine cents a word. With one dollar left, the older sister could send only one word. She thought for a moment, then said to the operator, "Send her the word comfortable."
Puzzled, the telegraph operator shook his head. "How will she know to do all that if all you send is comfortable?"
The woman replied, "My sister's not too smart, so she'll read it very slowly: com ... for... ta ... ble."
Our society is obsessed with comfort and convenience. People do not commit road rage when they have the road to themselves. We don't fuss about the weather when it's nearly perfect or when we're climate-controlled. It is easy to be happy when your favorite team wins.
Safety, comfort, and security. They sound like wonderful, worthy goals not to take issue with. After all, who would willingly seek out and embrace the opposite: danger, suffering, and risk? Yet these near-universal values of the Western world — comfort and security — are in fact slowly suffocating the life from our faith.
(IS IT REALLY? MAYBE IF YOU HAVE A WRONG MIND-SET, ON THE WORDS COMFORT, SECURITY, AND LIVE LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE MUST TAKE SECOND PLACE; THEN YES YOU HAVE PLACED THAT MIND-SET BETWEEN YOU AND THE TRUE GOD AND FOLLOWING HIS WORD AND WAYS. BUT IS COMFORT AND SECURITY WRONG PER SE? NO, IT ACTUALLY IS NOT! - Keith Hunt)
Conflicts of comfort
Let's talk about comfortable Christianity. The Bible tells us often of God's comfort. He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). But when God promises this, it is usually in the context of people who suffer. God offers to strengthen them in the midst of their hardship.
That is what comfort is about. It's a combination of two Latin root words: com, meaning "with" or "alongside," and forte, meaning "strength." So to comfort someone is to be alongside him providing strength.
(YES INDEED, GOD GIVES US MANY PROMISES HE'LL BE WITH US THROUGH OUR TIMES [AND MOST OF US HAVE THEM IN LIFE] OF TRIAL, TESTS, AND TROUBLES - Keith Hunt)
That's the comfort Christians should be looking for, but it's far from the twenty-first century variety. Our value of comfort is more about making life free from struggle, hassle, and irritation. It's about making life as soft and plush as possible. We tend to feel that no one should ever be physically, emotionally, or socially uncomfortable.
(BUT IS IT WRONG TO GO THROUGH LIFE BEING IN THE MAIN PHYSICALLY, EMOTIONALLY, AND SOCIALLY COMFORTABLE? Keith Hunt)
Madison Avenue backs this up. Anything that makes life easier and more luxurious is good. Conversely, anything that is difficult or stressful is intrinsically bad. With children, every player on the worst team gets a trophy so no child has to deal with the painful reality that some people are better at kicking or hitting a ball than they.
(NOW IT DEPENDS ON WHAT YOU MEAN BY "DIFFICULT" OR "STRESSFUL" - IS IT WRONG TO TRY AND LIVE LIFE WITH LITTLE DIFFICULTIES AND AS LITTLE STRESS AS POSSIBLE? YES IT IS GOING TO SILLY EXTREMES TO GIVE A TROPHY TO EACH PLAYER ON THE WORST TEAM. I HAVE AND DO TEACH MUSIC TO HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN OVER THE YEARS, THEY SHARE WITH ME THEIR SPORTS LIFE. SOMETIMES THEY AIN'T ON THE BEST WINNING TEAM. I'VE NEVER HEARD WHERE I LIVE, THAT EACH MEMBER OF THE WORST TEAM GETS A TROPHY….MAYBE SOMEWHERE THEY DO. AND THAT INDEED IS SILLY AND DOES NOT HELP THEM LEARN LIFE IS NOT ALWAYS ABOUT BEING "THE BEST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE" - Keith Hunt)
But the truth is, our faith grows stronger when we are forced outside our comfort zones, and it grows weaker the softer our situation and surroundings. Our cultural value that seeks comfort at any cost directly conflicts with one of the most important ways God uses to deepen our faith and relationship with Him.
(WELL YES IF IT MEANS TO OBEY AND SERVE GOD, WE WILL FACE UNCOMFORTABLE TIMES, IN WHATEVER WAY THE UN-COMFORT COMES, THEN YES BE UNCOMFORTABLE FOR THE TIME. BUT THINKING WE HAVE TO BE UNCOMFORTABLE ALL THE TIME, OR A GOOD CHUNCK OF THE TIME, IS NOT BEING "MORE CHRISTIAN" PER SE - Keith Hunt)
The apostle gave us a glimpse of the many discomforts he experienced as a faithful follower of Jesus: among them, beatings, shipwreck, dangers in various places, hunger, and thirst (2 Cprinthians 11:24-27). Paul later wrote that he had learned to, be content in all circumstances, that he could endure all things through Christ, who strengthened him (Philippians 4:11-13).
(NOW TO ACQUAINT THE AVERAGE CHRISTIAN WITH WHAT PAUL WAS CALLED TO DO, AND WAS TOLD BEFOREHAND THAT HE WAS CHOSEN, TO TEACH AND PREACH THE GOSPEL BEFORE THE LOWLY AND BEFORE KINGS, AND WOULD SUFFER MUCH IN SO DOING AT TIMES; THAT EXAMPLE IS HARDLY WHAT THE MODERN 99 PER CENT OF CHRISTIANS IS CALLED TO DO TODAY [YES IN SOME COUNTRIES IT IS EXTREMELY PERILOUS TO BE A CHRISTIAN, BUT WE ARE HERE NOT TALKING ABOUT THAT SITUATION]. BUT YES WE MUST BE WILLING TO KNOW THAT AT TIMES WE MAY HAVE TRIALS, TESTS, AND TROUBLES FOR BEING A CHRISTIAN. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN WE SHOULD GO OUT LOOKING FOR TRIALS, TESTS, AND TROUBLES - Keith Hunt)
How easy it is to complain when things are not comfortable and convenient! This is part of the seduction of this world, a lure that "popular Christianity" does not confront. It has the "health and wealth gospel," enticing people to place their faith in false hopes rooted in this passing world. So congregations attract new people based on their conveniences: easy parking, casual dress, exceptional childcare, entertaining services.
(OH YES I AGREE THERE ARE CHURCHES THAT "ENTERTAIN" YOU…. YOU SIT AND BE ENTERTAINED, WITH MUSIC, BANDS, CHOIRS, SOCIAL ACTIVITIES, AND LITTLE REAL BIBLE STUDY OR BIBLE PREACHING…. INDEED THAT CAN PUT YOU TO SLEEP AS BEING A REAL CHRISTAIAN - Keith Hunt)
We should not seek to be "comfortable Christians." Such a thing is ultimately impossible. At some point we must choose either to serve ourselves or to take up the cross and follow Jesus. The true test of our faith is how we respond when circumstances are uncomfortable and inconvenient.
(YES A TRUE CHRISTIAN IS FOUND WHEN YOU HAVE TO STAND FOR TRUTH AND RIGHTEOUSNESS, BEFORE JUST BEING IN A COMFORTABLE SEAT IN A COMFORTABLE CHURCH, WITH COMFORTABLE ENTERTAINMENT TO HAVE YOU FALLING ASLEEP - Keith Hunt)
Dangers of comfort
Deuteronomy 10:17 says "For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe."
Is this the way you typically think about God? As Great? Mighty? Awesome? Or do you relate to God more as a casual
One Christian t-shirt declares "Jesus is my homeboy." An action figure named "Buddy Jesus" shows our Savior with both thumbs up. This is how many Christians tend to view our God, whom the New Testament declares to be a "consuming fire," and also saying it is a fearful thing to fall into His hands.
Jesus was not John's "home-boy" nor Isaiah's "buddy." Solomon warned us not to rush into God's presence with words. That's what fools do, and often what we do. Fear of God is nearly unheard of in our culture. We prefer comfort instead.
(TRUE THERE ARE TOO MANY IN TOO MANY CHURCHES THAT ENTERTAIN YOU AS MENTIONED BEFORE. THEY ENTERTAIN AND NEVER CHALLENGE YOUR SPIRITUALITY TO BE GROWING IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE AS PETER WAS INSPIRED TO TELL US TO DO - Keith Hunt)
I'm not talking about the room temperature or the clothes we wear or padded pews. I'm talking about being comfortable in the presence of God. When you walk in for worship, do you stop and think that you are literally in the presence of the almighty Creator and ruler of the universe? What are you thinking about? Are you passing notes? Are you texting on your cell phone? Are you thinking about lunch? It would do us good to read how the Old Testament priests approached God: in fear, reverence, and honor. God is with us in worship, in our presence. Would you be texting on your cell phone, passing notes, or be otherwise disrespectful if He was right behind you? He is.
(AND YES I AGREE WITH THE AUTHOR HERE. TOO MANY ARE FALLING ASLEEP IN CHURCH, OR ARE THERE TO BE ENTERTAINED. OH YES THEY MAY BE FALLING ASLEEP BECAUSE THE BIBLE IS NOT TAUGHT OR PREACHED; THEY WANT A CHURCH THAT DOES NOT ROCK THEIR BOAT, OR CHALLENGE THEIR LIFE STYLE. THEN THERE IS THE OVER-SENTIMENTAL CHRISTIAN GROUPS WITH SYRUPY WORDS, FANCY DECORATED PLACES OF WORSHIP, AND PHYSICAL ACCOUTREMENTS OF DRESS AND DECORUM - Keith Hunt)
The stories are breathtaking and heartbreaking. Stories of people who are told to reject Christ or face death, who have lost everything because Jesus is Lord. In places where that happens, where being a Christian might cost your life - the gospel often thrives and the church grows.
(THAT HAS BEEN SO IN PAST AGES, YES, AND IS IN SOME PLACES TODAY. BUT IF IT'S NOT WHERE
YOU LIVE, IT'S NOT WRONG TO LIVE THERE AND LIVE AS FREE FROM TRIALS, TESTS, AND TROUBLES, AS POSSIBLE - Keith Hunt)
I read about missionaries in Nicaragua who walk fifteen miles to church, about Christians in Asia who face death if they attend. They still do and their numbers are growing. In America we don't risk our lives for the church. We sing the songs we like, hear a thirty minute sermon, and still get home before the roast burns. We cancel when the snow is bad.
So why isn't the church in America growing? Because we often make church as comfortable as possible — too comfortable. The church makes itself fit in so well that Christians are no longer different from others. We need to make the gospel accessible to all people, but when we water down Christianity to nothing more than a prayer without life change, then it has lost all meaning.
(OH YES I AGREE. GOD'S WORD IS POWERFUL, STRONG, SHARP, EVEN TO CUTTING THE BONE FROM THE MARROW. WE NEED TO BE TRUE, STRONG, MIGHTY CHRISTIANS, IN MIND AND BODY AND HEART, YET THAT DOES NOT MEAN WE LIVE FOOLISHLY TO BRING ON TRIALS, TESTS, AND TROUBLES - Keith Hunt)
The church may not be dying, but if we don't take some cues from God about what really matters, we could be in real trouble — sooner rather than later. Fixing the problem will take some time, but with the help of God through His Holy Spirit, it will be done.
(JESUS SAID HE WOULD BUILD HIS CHURCH AND THE GATES OF DEATH WOULD NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT. HE ALSO SAID IT WAS THE LITTLE FLOCK [GREEK MEANS VERY LITTLE FLOCK], AND THE SALT OF THE EARTH, SPRINKLED HERE AND THERE. THE TRUE CHRISTIAN WILL NOT BE ASLEEP; THEY WILL BE WIDE AWAKE. THEY WILL BE STUDYING GOD'S WORD, TRYING TO DO AS JESUS SAID, LIVING BY EVERY WORD OF GOD. THEY WILL BE GROWING IN GRACE AND KNOWLEDGE. THEY WILL BE PUTTING ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD EACH DAY TO FIGHT THE DARTS OF THE DEVIL. THEY WILL NOT BE SITTED IN A SEAT IN A CHURCH CONGREGATION THAT PUTS THEM TO SLEEP, OR JUST ENTERTAINS THEM, OR FOREVER PATS THEM ON THE BACK WITH SMOOTH LULABY VOICES. BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN THEY HAVE TO MISS OUT ON THE COMFORTABLE AND STRESSLESS LIFE; MORE TO SAY ON THAT BELOW - Keith Hunt)
Has our faith become too comfortable? These signs indicate a problem:
When we neglect meeting with the brethren. If we wake up Sabbath morning, lie in bed, and debate if we're going to church, we're too comfortable. When did this become an option?
(WELL YOU MAY NOT HAVE ANYONE CLOSE OF LIKE MIND TO MEET WITH. TRUE CHRISTIANS ARE AS JESUS SAID, THE SALT OF THE EARTH, SPRINKLED HERE AND THERE - Keith Hunt)
When we think the church's responsibility is to feed us. Yes, we should be fed, but we should also feed ourselves. Folks in the book of Acts didn't have PowerPoint, microphones, or smoke machines. They brought worship with them. Let's start bringing our hearts full with Jesus, then help feed others.
When we haven't had a spiritual conversation for a long while. We've stopped sharing His love with others. The law says "You have the right to remain silent," but it doesn't say you have to. Christians don't have the luxury to remain silent when it comes to Christ.
(BUT WE HAVE TO REMEMBER JESUS' WORDS ALSO, "DON'T CAST YOUR PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, LEST THEY TURN AND TRAMPLE YOU." WE HAVE TO BE AS WISE AS SERPENTS AND HARMLESS AS DOVES - Keith Hunt)
When our Sabbath routines are more important than outreach. As long as we get our parking spot, our favorite pew, and hear the music we like, everything's fine, right? Just don't preach about what challenges us or our need for change. Just tickle our ears and do it without taking long.
When our prayers don't seem to make any difference. We've heard Jesus' words on forgiveness, but we hold on to our grudges and wonder why our prayers go unanswered. Until we learn to forgive others no matter how badly they've hurt us, they still have all the power over us.
When we've forgotten how to serve others first. When we help others, ministering to their needs and allowing them to see Jesus in us, we will start making a difference again. They've heard us talk long enough. Now they want to see it.
— Tim Endecott
From the "Bible Advocate: - May-June 2014; a publication of the Church of God Seventh Day, Denver, CO. USA.
DOES ANYONE THINK IT IS WRONG TO HAVE A JOB YOU LIKE AND FOR POSSIBLY LIFE, UNTIL RETIREMENT, WITH DECENT PAY? HOPE NOT BECAUSE IT SURELY IS NOT WRONG.
DOES ANYONE THINK A GOOD MARRIAGE, YES FOR LIFE, IS WRONG? HOPE NOT FOR IT IS NOT WRONG!
DOES ANYONE THINK HAPPY, OBEDIENT, HEALTHY CHILDREN ARE WRONG TO HAVE? HOPE NOT, FOR IT IS JUST GREAT TO HAVE THEM.
DOES ANYONE THINK IT IS WRONG TO HAVE THE BASIC NEEDS OF LIFE - NICE HOME, FOOD, CLOTHES, AND THE PHYSICAL THINGS THAT MAKE LIFE SMOOTH? HOPE NOT FOR IT IS NOT WRONG TO HAVE THEM.
DOES ANYONE THINK IT IS WRONG TO HAVE GOOD HEALTH ALL YOUR LIFE? HOPE NOT FOR IT IS NOT WRONG TO BE HEALTHY.
DOES ANYONE THINK IT IS WRONG TO BE IN A LIFE THAT HAS VERY LITTLE STRESS, MAYBE NONE AT ALL TO SPEAK OF? HOPE NOT FOR IT IS NOT WRONG TO BE FREE FROM STRESS.
PROBABLY FEW OF US CAN GO THROUGH OUR FULL LIFE LIKE ABOVE…..SMOOTH, SECURE, UNDER CONTROL IN ALL ASPECTS OF OUR PHYSICAL LIFE. MY DAD WOULD ACTUALLY SAY HE DID, AND HE'LL BE 94 THIS AUGUST 2014.
FOR MOST OF US, WE SHALL HAVE OUR SHARE OF UPS AND DOWNS, TRIALS AND TESTS AND TROUBLES, HERE AND THERE.
BUT OFTEN IT IS OUR OWN FAULT, BAD MISTAKES, BAD JUDGMENT, WRONG CHOICES, LACK OF WISDOM, LACK OF FORETHOUGHT AND PLANNING, ALLOWING OURSELVES TO GET IN OVER OUR HEAD IN SOME MATTERS, NOT SEEKING KNOWLEDGABLE ADVISE……AND HENCE WE END UP BEING UN-COMFORTABLE AND WITH HUGE STRESS.
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH A CHRISTIAN BEING COMFORTABLE AND STRESS FREE IN THIS LIFE.
I HAVE A FULL STUDY ON THIS WEBSITE CALLED "TRIAL, TESTS, AND TROUBLES."