When was the last time you pushed yourself to do something really uncomfortable? I’m not talking about running a mile as a part of your New Year’s diet plan or folding the clothes that bring you joy in a new way. I’m talking about stretching your bounds of ease, success and competency. Let’s take this a step further. For those of you that chase after Jesus, when was the last time you did something really uncomfortable in the name of your faith?
If it has been a while, let’s talk. There is not one thing about the life and ministry of Jesus that was go-with-the-flow and crowd pleasing. Quite the opposite, I feel certain that instead Jesus was rarely mundane. The great legacy of Christ is the radical way in which he refused to allow those that were longing to see God to remain in a sense of worldly comfort. Rather, he demonstrated quite often that he was sick and tired of religious games.
Jesus was completely uninterested in and often turned off by those that enjoyed safety and comfort. Money and position and privilege were seen as stumbling blocks to faith. Not because Jesus was mean. Not because he longed for people to hurt. Instead, Jesus knew the truth that we often miss. When we have our basic needs met, we don’t need any other help. When we are happy and we have love and warmth and freedom and full stomachs, we don’t need to depend on our Creator. This is where I tell you to sell your car and house and give all your money away, right? I know that some of you think that I believe that to be a socially responsible goal. Nope. That’s not my end game. Instead, I am going to ask again, when did you last do something that made you feel completely incapable, unable, inept?
This morning I left the house at 6:02. Full stop. I was already uncomfortable. But that was only the beginning. I had quite a drive to ponder my ineptness as I prepared for a new experience. There are so many things that I do well. I could walk into any ICU and be completely unfazed. I can hold the hair of a de-toxing puker and feel capable and worthy. I can even sit with the broken-hearted and depressed while they are lost in numbness and not flinch. But not today. Just when I think that God has equipped me with all that I need to do the next thing, bam! Guess what, Lacy? You will forever need me. And when you think that you have things figured out, that’s when I need you to need me again. This was the talk that God and I had as I made my early morning drive.
As I drove through Houston today, I saw more churches than I could count. There were thousands of cars, sitting in hundreds of church parking lots all over the city. I thought to myself, what if every follower of Jesus did one really uncomfortable thing this week? I’m not talking about standing on the street corner with a billboard asking people about their place in heaven. I’m referring to the intimate, soul shaping work of feeding the hungry or facing your own demons or sitting with a dying friend. I’m referring to sharing a meal with someone because they need to be loved. What about having that hard conversation that you have been putting off because you know it is going to hurt?
My friends, we only grow when we stretch. And just when you think you can’t possibly stretch anymore, Jesus sends you on a mission that takes a new kind of dependence. That’s what being a Christ follower is all about. It’s not just parking in the lot on Sunday and singing some songs. Don’t get me wrong, I was running back to my church in time to be fed at the Table this morning. We need each other to do this hard work. But this is more than a one hour a week business. We need 24/7/365 engagement because we have a world that is falling apart on our watch. Let’s get uncomfortable together!