“Glory to God in the Highest Heaven, and COMFORT on Earth…”
But we all know that’s not exactly what the angel said. However, it could be that it’s what we want it to say. At least personally, I can so quickly replace the declaration of peace with the expectation of comfort. Another way of saying this is that somewhere in my faith, I have subtly equated the words “peace” and “comfort”. I believe there’s peace when I’m comfortable, when the circumstances and situations around me are in a place of rest, calmness, and ease. The problem is that this viewpoint or way of thinking has undervalued and overlooked the presence of peace in my life.
Ultimately, we must realize our pursuit of comfort prevents us from experiencing peace. Really, comfort is the silent killer to greater growth in our lives. What if the best thing that God wants for us, including peace, is on the other side of the comfort that we cling so tightly to?
What if the best thing that God wants for us, including peace, is on the other side of the comfort that we cling so tightly to?
We are promised peace, Jesus came to bring us peace. He is “peace on earth”. However, as 21st-century American followers of Jesus, we can let our pursuit and desire for comfort seep into our faith. That’s how the advertisements we see on TV or social media outlets work. They appeal to our desire for comfort. The newest and greatest product or product upgrade will give us greater comfort and satisfaction. My argument to my wife is that I NEED the new iPhone because it will give me an unmatched level of ease and satisfaction. It will make my life more comfortable.
This idea is at the core of why Jesus tells us in Matthew 19:24 that it’s difficult for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. He knows we idolize not just money, but what money can buy, including comfort and ease. Jesus understands how quickly we can elevate these things to a “god-like” status in our life.
If we aren’t careful, we can expect Jesus to become our Savior who not only saves us from our sin, but also from our discomfort. This line of thinking can be dangerous for our faith, because we begin to think that a season of discomfort in our relationships with God or people, career, or circumstances is something that we should try to escape or avoid. We believe God would never want us to experience discomfort and therefore the situation we are in must be against God’s plan for us. When we buy into this line of thinking, we become apathetic and powerless followers of Jesus.
The reality is that God wants us to be more like His Son, a shining light to a broken world that shows God’s love, truth, and grace. That’s His aim and goal, which conflicts with our pursuit of comfort. The pursuit of Jesus is a life of obedience, of going to new and deeper levels with Him, and obedience to God regularly requires us to step into something uncomfortable—something contrary to our natural desires. That’s why one our core values at Brentwood Church is “We do not stand still, because we believe everyone has a next step towards Jesus.”
We have to remind ourselves that God does promise us peace, even in the midst of the most uncertain of times. Jesus tells us in John 16:33:
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
We will experience pain and discomfort because we live in a fatal, fallen, and unfair world. Jesus’ birth and death on the cross required Him to endure pain and discomfort. However, they created the greatest peace the world has ever experienced. They introduced us to a present and eternal peace that’s so much bigger than our physical comfort and convenience, and that we gain when we believe in and follow Jesus.
So, what now?
- Identify an area of growth in your faith you are avoiding because of discomfort. Instead of asking the question “Will this bring me comfort?” ask “Will this better show the love of Jesus to others?”
- Ask God to help you identify areas of your life where your pursuit of comfort has become an idol. Once you have pinpointed it, then confess it and allow God to bring healing and growth to your life.
- Dwell on the truth that Jesus declares in John 16:33. Even when the Christmas season brings up memories and circumstances of discomfort, we can know that Jesus Christ has brought us a present and eternal peace.