Saturday, August 13, 2016

Too Comfortable

by Andrew Cromwell

Francis Schaeffer, the widely-read Christian theologian, said that there are two values that the western world has adopted. He referred to the values as “impoverished”, which is to say they are lousy. The two values are comfort and affluence.

First, let’s talk about comfort. Here’s the deal. We all like to be comfortable. It’s part of our basic human nature. Babies cry because they’re uncomfortable. They yell because they are either hungry, wet, have a stomach ache, are teething, or just want to be held. Parents scramble to do whatever they can to make baby comfortable so they shut up. As baby grows older, she becomes more sophisticated about communicating her wishes to those around her, but it’s largely the same story: the baby, now an adult, throws a fit when something’s not right in their world and keeps throwing it until it is.

We all like our comfort. We avoid people who make us uncomfortable. We buy cars that make us comfortable. We love clothes that make us comfortable, and so on. We will do whatever we can to organize our lives in such a way that discomfort is minimized. Some of us go to ridiculous lengths and spend ridiculous amounts of money in the quest for comfort.

Affluence, the second impoverished value, goes hand-in-hand with comfort. Affluence is simply the means to afford the comfort we so desire. The more affluent you are, the more power you have over your time and the more money you have to spend. Americans are pretty affluent. Even those who don’t think they are affluent, generally are vastly more affluent than the other 95% of the world.

The problem with these values is that they’re generally good things that become bad things. It’s not bad to be comfortable and to be affluent, but when these two things become major goals in life (which happens really easily) then our lives tend to be largely empty of meaning.

We could say it this way, comfort and affluence are often enemies of the truly good life. A life that is good is full of rich relationships, depth of moral character, and a meaningful legacy. These things don’t generally happen when our goal is comfort and affluence. This is because the best things in life require us moving out of our comfort zone. The best things in life require risk.

I read a story recently about a monk who lived all his life dedicated to prayer and fasting. He was so committed to God that he never married, lived in a remote monastery, had few worldly possessions and was widely respected by the community as a holy man. When the man died at a very old age, He was welcomed into heaven, but the reception he received was not what he expected. God asked him why he had removed himself from the very relationships and life situations that would cause his character to grow. He had missed countless opportunities to be refined and shaped into a better soul.

What does this have to do with comfort? Everything. The holy man had organized his life in such a way that the most difficult things in life (relationships) didn’t bother him. As a consequence, he wasted his opportunity for growth.

So where is your life too comfortable? Where are you taking the easy road that feels better in the moment so that you don’t have to have that difficult conversation, be around that difficult person, or generally not be inconvenienced with someone else’s drama? Perhaps these are the very areas that God has put in your life to provide you with an opportunity to grow and change (and be a blessing to others to boot)!

Andrew Cromwell is the executive pastor at Koinonia Church in Hanford. E-mail him at or call 582-1528.

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