highway to the comfort zone


I’m not sure how you process winter, but if you’re anything like me, it is always an inspired quest to see what level of coziness (read laziness) can be achieved. It’s often a combination of flannel pajama pants, warm socks or blankets, hot coffee or cocoa, oversized hoodie, comfort foods and streaming television or movies. In fact, I’m not even sure why I am writing this right now when I could be pursuing the plethora of means of comfort that lead to this sloth-like ecstasy. But truly, it’s almost like the pursuit of comfort has become a national past-time for us. We have infomercials dedicated to pillows or blankets or mattresses. We have entire companies dedicated to making pajamas and lounge-wear. And don’t get me started on the Snuggie. But it doesn’t stop with this kind of comfort. Everything in our consumerist society tries to appeal to people’s sense of ease and comfort and pursuit of the lack of difficulty in their everyday life. But what if I told you that perhaps comfort is the most un-Christlike thing we pursue?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with flannel pajamas or oversized hoodies, but the way in which we seek out comfort in every facet of our lives might be where we are missing the mark. And it has to do with the incarnation more than anything else. God becoming flesh is the beginning (and some might say the culminating) event of our redemption in Christ. God becomes like us so that we might become like Him. Paul puts this rather succinctly in his letter to the Philippian church, “Though he was in the form of God, he did not consider being equal with God something to exploit.” – Philippians 2:6 Although Jesus is God He gave up power (and comfort) to come to our level to bring us to His level. Not only that, but Jesus spent His entire ministry pushing the bounds of what made us comfortable. He broke sabbath laws, He dined with tax collectors, He touched lepers and the unclean, He spoke with Samaritan women and He challenged the way we viewed everything…He made us uncomfortable. But He first embodied it.

The reason I think this becomes such a sticky issue for us is that comfort has even invaded the way we claim to follow this uncomfortable Christ. We have our ways that we like to worship, we have our people we like to be associated with and we have our traditions and schedules we like to keep…because we’re comfortable with this. Even sometimes the way in which we interact with people who culturally worship different with us is affected by our comfort level. For instance, here at my own church we have an African congregation that worship every Sunday in our building. Very rarely do me or my Anglo friends join in this service. But give us the opportunity to worship with our African brothers and sisters on African soil and we would jump at the opportunity; because it is on our own terms and it doesn’t interfere with what is comfortable for us each week. Maybe sometimes what we do doesn’t embody Christ embodiment for us. To model Christ embodiment for us is to find ourselves not seeking our own comfort, but seeking to make others feel loved, included and embraced regardless of our discomfort. And maybe this might make you uncomfortable, but it makes me uncomfortable too and maybe that’s what Jesus want for us.

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