I don’t like being made uncomfortable. And yet, I know that following Jesus is not about being comfortable. Just think about Jesus’ call to take up our cross and follow him (see Mark 8:34). That’s a road to death.
It seems like the ever-present tension for most Christians in the west is between abandoning ourselves to Jesus as his disciples for the sake of the gospel, and the desire to maintain comfort, security, wants and satisfied preferences – which are amply provided for in our affluent, democratic society.
Of course, our motives are pure. We want to grow closer to Jesus. We want to see our friends and family saved. We want the ministry of our church to flourish.
But we also want to see those things happen with minimal disruption, challenge and cost to ourselves. We like our Christianity comfortable, so we can have our cake and eat it too.
‘Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.’ (Philippians 3:8–11 ESV)
Can we really say to Jesus, ‘I’ll have your grace and your blessing, but I don’t want your suffering’? I hope that none of us would ever have to choose our faith in Jesus over our freedom, or our lives, like Paul. But following Christ is not about comfort, preference and material security. The cross, by its very nature, is opposed to that.
Brett McCracken observes: ‘To be a Christian is to accept the discomfort of a way of life inspired and empowered by a cruel, rugged old cross, a symbol of scorn and degradation.’ (p.45, Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community, by Brett McCracken © 2017, Crossway)
Live it: How uncomfortable are you prepared to be for the sake of the gospel? How could you pray about your response to ‘gospel discomfort’?