One means Satan uses to nullify our spiritual effectiveness for God is by persuading us that it is too risky to move outside our “comfort zone”. As a result we settle down to a life which is of little consequence in the moving forward of the kingdom of God.
But what is a comfort zone? When we are in a situation where we surround ourselves with various people and things which protect us from uncertainty and potential danger then we are in a comfort zone. This can be true of both Individuals and organizations and therefore of Christians and Churches..
Let us think of the individual Christian. This person has found themselves a good church; they are surrounded by warm friends who support them in their spiritual walk. The preaching of the Word is sound and challenging (but not too challenging!). They engage in service for God, but do so just so long as it does not infringe upon their time and social activities.
A Church also can exist in a comfort zone. Activities carry on as they have always done. No re-arrangement of anything or introduction of new things is contemplated. Evangelism is engaged in because that is the done thing. However, beneath the surface there is the hope that only the nice people come in as a result; otherwise anyone else might disturb the church.
So as we face a new year we ask ourselves is it good to settle down in our comfort zones. Is such an approach to life compatible with a vibrant life of faith? Let us look at the issue form three directions:
- Discipleship. We read in Mark 8:34-35 concerning our LORD that he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. Is it not the case that at the root of our existence within our comfort zones is the desire to save our lives. The LORD says that if this tragically is the case then we could actually be losing the lives we think that we are saving.
- Faith. Abraham is presented to us as the great exemplar of the life of faith. Concerning his initial leaving of Ur of the Chaldeans we read that by faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going (Heb. 11:8). The life of faith determines that the call of God will be obeyed even though there is no awareness of what the consequences might be. Whereas the life of “comfort zones” assesses the consequences and then decides whether or not to obey God’s call.
- Example. As a general rule it is those who have stepped outside their comfort zones who have accomplished great things for God. The most perfect example of this is our Saviour Himself. He was in the ultimate comfort zone; sharing glory with the father in an eternal bliss. But knowing the divine purpose and knowing the plight of man we read Him saying in Hebrews 10:7 Then I said, ‘Here I am — it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, my God”And it is a continual pattern throughout scripture that those used mightily by God have been willing to say “LORD if you say it I will do it regardless of the consequences”. Hebrews 11 is catalogue of such scenarios. Of Moses we read, for example, that By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible (Heb. 11:24-27).Moreover, as we look through the mighty servants of God down the years we see that they stepped outside their comfort zones. Think of a Harriet Hasseltine. She had met and fallen in love with Samuel Newell who was committed to be one of the first American missionaries. He was set, with four others, to go and reach the evangelized multitudes in India and the Far East. If she committed to marry him it would mean she would never see friends and family again. But she went. Read an moving account of how she left her “comfort zone” on pp31-42 of Seeing the Invisible by Faith Cook.
As we enter 2011 let us then think of where we are at as individuals and as a church. Being a Christian is a risky business! However, to truly walk by faith is the most glorious business. Where is God calling us to? Will we take the risk and say “Yes LORD I will follow” and thereby find our lives. Or will we settle back into our comfort zones and thereby lose our lives. Finally we must assert that this is not about doing reckless things according to our own whim and fancy. But it is about obeying God.
(Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of January 2011)