[I Counter-culture]


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)



Discomfort



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
acquaintance?


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)


Weakened faith


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)



Warning Signs


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."


Keith Hunt