My husband and I are officially unemployed with three children and a car note. This didn't occur by happenstance, rather our employment status was the result of deliberate prayer and decision. Approximately 6 months ago I found myself driving to an ordinary ministry conference on an ordinary day only to be met with an extraordinary message—Christianity was not meant to be comfortable!
Let's see the picture of Christianity that Jesus painted for his disciples:
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason, the world hates you." John 15:18-19
"If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26-27
Jesus is not exactly concerned about presenting Christianity as a palatable way of life. In fact, a collection of Jesus' sayings almost seems antithetical to winning souls for Christ. At the height of his ministry popularity, he spoke these words in a crowded synagogue, "… I tell you the solemn truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in yourselves." (John 6:53) Jesus was addressing a Jewish crowd wherein eating human flesh and blood of any kind was forbidden. He knew that such an offense would weed out those who were not interested in paying the cost of discipleship. In verse 66 we find that because of this, many people who were following him decided to leave. Jesus even questioned the allegiance of the 12 disciples asking, “You don’t want to go away too, do you?” (John 6:67)
It's been said that Jesus would fail any modern-day seminary course on evangelism with this type of rhetoric as his addendum to the Roman's Road. Why is this? Because we as a people like things to be nice, tidy and comfortable. Yet Jesus never presented Christianity this way. Instead, he presented it as self-sacrificial, sometimes lonely, sometimes dangerous, always joyous and always hopeful but never comfortable. In fact, it was the creature comforts that mankind is accustomed to, that Jesus famously challenged when the young followers begin to pledge their allegiance to the Gospel cause. (Luke 9:57-62)
When met with the truth of my comfortable Christianity it caused me to question how I prioritize my life. Was I more concerned with being able to afford private school for my kids or doing the down and dirty work of loving the unlovable and touching the untouchable for Christ? For my family, we chose to pack it all up, and go into missions full time. While this may not be the answer for you and your family, remember that carrying your cross daily (Luke 9:23) means choosing discomfort time and time again. The very phrase “This is my cross to bear,” has been dumbed down in our culture: people use this terminology to describe a bad habit, a missed opportunity or an unmet goal. However, bearing a cross daily is no small thing. Some have approximated the Cross’ weight at 165 pounds. As a tool of execution, there were no finished edges or veneers, yet it was likely jagged, knotted, filthy and utterly detestable. Carrying a cross was not only humiliating and painful, but it was also near impossible when considering the fragile state of the body prior to a Roman execution. The imagery of carrying one’s cross does not depict a life without risks, without pain, or hardships.
Therefore, we must ask ourselves, what are the hardships that God has called us to? When we line up our Christian experience with the description that Jesus sets before us I believe most of us find that we have been taking a pretty easy road, catering to ourselves, our loved ones, and people who look like we do and think like we do. But I implore you today, really… Jesus implores your today, to look beyond your comfort and sacrifice for his Kingdom purposes. For, it is only within daily submission to God’s call on our lives that we can find true comfort.
For more on this read:
The Cost of Discipleship
Dare to Be Different