If your goal is to be comfortable in church, with faith, discipleship, I’m going tell you right now that what you are striving for isn’t church, faith, or discipleship.
Let me clarify a bit. I’m not talking about physical comfort here. I’m not talking about having enough money to survive and not worry about where your next meal is coming from. I’m not talking about receiving comfort after you have gone through a traumatic event, or lost a loved one, or you need healing because of something that happened to you. All those things are good things to seek – often necessary for life too.
I’m talking about the kind of comfort that allows you to avoid dealing with uncomfortable and inconvenient things because they expose your belief systems to realities to things and ideas that you don’t like. Church isn’t supposed to provide you comfort in this way. Faith often is very uncomfortable. That’s not actually comfort at all – it’s privilege. Discipleship is costly. How could we possibly see church, faith, and discipleship any other way?
At the beginning of our Lutheran worship service we start with the confession and forgiveness. That should be uncomfortable to the core because a person is doing self-examination and being intentional about where they are broken and how they have broken relationship with God and others. That’s not comfortable. And it’s a part of the service.
There are numerous passages of Scripture that are really uncomfortable and we should read them and be uncomfortable.
If protecting your worldview and set of beliefs and opinions from critique and examination is your goal, then I’ve got news for you – you are missing out. And I feel bad for you actually. And if churches, pastors, and other church leaders have created environments where you never have to feel uncomfortable, then they are practicing theological malpractice. They are doing you a great disservice.
Discipleship and faith are not easy. They aren’t supposed to be. But they are worth it – big time. Anything worthwhile is uncomfortable to some degree. Anything worthwhile pushes us to our limits and beyond. Anything worthwhile challenges us. Anything worthwhile requires an investment of our very selves into it.
Growth is uncomfortable. But growth is one of the characteristics of what it means to be alive. If comfort is our primary value and goal, then we aren’t oriented to life. We are turning inward on ourselves, putting our fingers in our ears and saying “blah, blah, blah” so that we can’t hear those around us. We are putting blinders on so we only see a small slice of what we want to see. We are willingly ignoring injustice (which is uncomfortable), and the brokenness around us, poverty, those who are outcasts, racism, nationalism, violence, abuse, exploitation, and more. Those things are a reality around us. And they are uncomfortable to the people who suffer because of them. If our own comfort is our primary goal and value, then we are placing ourselves as more important than others. We have lost sight of the image of God in others. We are moving away from Shalom. We are rejecting Jesus’ way of peace. We aren’t interested in restoration. We should be really uncomfortable with all of this.
Isn’t this what our faith is all about? We proclaim life, death, and resurrection. You think the death part is comfortable? No. It’s not comfortable for anyone. Yet, you can’t experience resurrection until you go through death.
If comfort is your top value, then you are missing out on so much of what church, faith, and discipleship has to offer. And that’s really sad. And I don’t know how to make you care enough to see that.
I pray that you are uncomfortable. That you are challenged. I pray that this discomfort pokes you and probs you enough to act. And when it does, I’ll be here, waiting for you. To walk alongside you. Let’s be uncomfortable together.