Since we are sharing a series of posts about our move to Ireland, I thought I’d repost some other posts from around that time as it’ll give some insight to what was going on. I may make small edits or update information, but generally they’ll be shared as originally published #FlashbackFriday

I’ve been thinking about being comfortable lately. One of that issues that we deal with when we are in the midst of a transition is discomfort. When we move from a place where we understand how things work, and what our role is, we’d consider ourselves comfortable with our surroundings. When our situation changes, we experience a level of discomfort. (Obviously, the bigger the transition, the bigger the discomfort).

Churches often talk about being comfortable too. Or at least decreasing the level of discomfort, especially for people who are new to the church. The best way I’ve ever heard it said is Bill Hybels’ statement that the church should be a “safe place to hear a dangerous message.”

In other words, our goal is not to provide a comfortable place for people. In fact, part of what we do is challenge people to change their lives. To take up their cross and follow Christ. Transformation is not a comfortable process.

At the same time, we don’t want to put hurdles in people’s way. If you go to a church a few times & no one has spoken to you, you have not been made to feel comfortable, and the likelihood is, you won’t be there to hear the gospel of the Kingdom.

Recently I heard a conversation where two people where talking about comfort when it comes to Sunday mornings. The one person stated that he was sensitive to the issue, but thought at times it goes to far. The second person pointed out that Jesus was always making people uncomfortable, and began expounding on some stories of His interactions with the Pharisees.

I interjected that while that was characteristic of His interacts with the Pharisees, when it came to the hurting and broken, He did not go out of his way to make them uncomfortable. However, over the next few hours, story after story came into my mind of how He made hurting people uncomfortable. (yelling “who touched me?” to the woman with the flow of blood and making her identify herself rather than letting her sneak into the background. Calling another woman and her child dogs. You get the idea.)

But as I thought about each of the examples that came to mind, what I realized was that when even Jesus made a hurting person uncomfortable, it was for a purpose. It was for their benefit. It was always redemptive.

Too often when we make broken and hurting people uncomfortable, it has nothing to do with the other person. It has to do with our preferences (“I want this kind of music on Sundays because this is how I best relate to God.”); with our laziness, (“I come on Sunday to receive.” “I have too many other things going on to get involved.”); or with a general lack of concern for those who are distant from Jesus.

Just something I’ve been thinking about.

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2 comments
  1. Erin Smith says:

    Maybe it’s the word “comfortable” – In the face of transition and generally where we are in our relationships with Jesus and each other are concerned, if we are learning & growing, a decent level of discomfort is to be expected – and should be encouraged. Truth and honesty (and like you said, transformation) can be disarming and uncomfortable. 

    But as far as Sunday mornings (and any other gathering times), I wonder if a better way to frame it is to talk about hospitality? When you think about dinner parties, there may be times when things get “real” or uncomfortable. And conversations that are good are conversations that reveal – which can be scary (at least for me), but if the host is hospitable & kind & loving, the entire event feels welcoming and allows the guests to open up to any discomfort that might come their way? 

    But the word “comfortable” makes me wonder whose comfort? There are people who would never feel comfortable coming into a service on Sunday morning, and people who would walk in and feel right at home. 

    I think we are so used to being maintained and marketed to, that there is this craving for integrity and for something real – I read this article the other day: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/features/27595-why-young-adults-are-leaving-the-church and the comments are fascinating – hearing why young people are leaving the church – as someone who left (and came back) I can identify with lots of them 🙂 

    Sometimes I wonder if making things comfortable lowers expectations?

    Good post! 

  2. Erin says:

    Maybe it’s the word “comfortable” – In the face of transition and generally where we are in our relationships with Jesus and each other are concerned, if we are learning & growing, a decent level of discomfort is to be expected – and should be encouraged. Truth and honesty (and like you said, transformation) can be disarming and uncomfortable. 

    But as far as Sunday mornings (and any other gathering times), I wonder if a better way to frame it is to talk about hospitality? When you think about dinner parties, there may be times when things get “real” or uncomfortable. And conversations that are good are conversations that reveal – which can be scary (at least for me), but if the host is hospitable & kind & loving, the entire event feels welcoming and allows the guests to open up to any discomfort that might come their way? 

    But the word “comfortable” makes me wonder whose comfort? There are people who would never feel comfortable coming into a service on Sunday morning, and people who would walk in and feel right at home. 

    I think we are so used to being maintained and marketed to, that there is this craving for integrity and for something real – I read this article the other day: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/features/27595-why-young-adults-are-leaving-the-church and the comments are fascinating – hearing why young people are leaving the church – as someone who left (and came back) I can identify with lots of them 🙂 

    Sometimes I wonder if making things comfortable lowers expectations?

    Good post! 

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