Am I lazy in my faith?
Am I too comfortable in my faith?
Is my relationship with Jesus a routine?
Am I a spectator Christian?
These questions have been rattling in my brain recently and I’ve been challenged to think that we need to be Christ followers who are willing to step into the unknown. We need to be people who are willing and obedient to go outside of our comfort level. I don’t think truly following Christ means everything is easy, comfortable and safe. For example, welcoming someone outside of your circle of friends isn’t always easy. Forgiving someone who hurt you isn’t always comfortable. Admitting your mistakes and asking for forgiveness can definitely push you out of your comfort zone.
In The Gospel According to Starbucks, Leonard Sweet challenges our lazy Christian mentality by saying, “Imagine how different the Christian life would be if it was understood not as something to ponder or to observe in others – but as the one thing in life that has to be fully experienced.”
Jesus also challenges us to be people of action and he warns us against a safe, comfortable and selfish faith in Matthew 16:24, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life.”
I don’t think when Jesus said these words he intended for us to be so comfortable in our faith. Especially when you look at Americans we see a very passive and safe faith that doesn’t want to ruffle feathers or even motivate us to action. We become mere spectator Christians rather than participants. I think we can easily find ourselves sitting in a church service agreeing with everything being preached that fits into our paradigm. But the moment something is said that pushes us to action, contradicts our current perspective or makes us a little uncomfortable we are quick to make excuses like, “well that’s just his interpretation,” or “that’s between them and God, not me.” My fear is that our fear, apathy or laziness could cause us to become “Buffet Christians” who just pick and choose what they want to believe rather than accepting all that we see in God’s Word, in the life of Jesus and what He’s calling us to.
There are many things that God could bring up in a given service that we would simply reject or blow off for one reason or another. Things that may seem a little awkward at first or may cause us to become a more action oriented than usual. Things like fasting, self sacrifice, giving/generosity, serving/volunteering, helping the poor, practicing hospitality, praying aloud, raising our hands in worship, speaking in tongues, getting involved in our church and the local community, asking for forgiveness, giving forgiveness, sharing our faith, inviting someone to church, sexual purity, studying the Bible, prolonged times of prayer, being friendly with people, getting involved with a small group, and the list could go on and on. Some may seem insignificant and simple while others appear way too crazy to be a part of your life. I believe that God wants to teach us and use us in a variety of ways through a variety of different methods, and I think we’re missing out on something if we put God is a safe little box and try to confine Him.
In Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley had some thoughts on the blessings of being obedient to what God is asking, “Acts of obedience allow our faith to intersect with God’s faithfulness. It is at that intersection that we see God work. And when we see Him work our faith gets bigger.”
That faithful obedience to God’s Word and his guidance is going to stretch us, but it will also bless us. Instead of limiting God’s work in our lives because of our fear or apathy or shear laziness, let’s be a people that push ourselves into the unknown. Let’s be people who through active obedience to God step out of our comfort zones.
Take a few minutes and make a list of the things that would push you out of your comfort zone. Then make realistic and practical goals to do those things over the next three weeks.
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