We all like to live in our comfort zones. It’s our natural human state to like things that are familiar and easy to for us to do or relate to and shy away from the things that we find uncomfortable. I have found myself in that position several times since taking on a new job. I left the coffee world and a job that I knew I was good at. I knew what was expected and how to do everything that I might need to. I started at a church knowing that indeed it was the exact right thing to do but not having any idea what I was getting myself into. I’m a little over a month in and I’m still not exactly sure what I’m doing but I know I’m exactly where I need to be. What I’ve found is that even though I know I’m in the exact place God wants me to be I’ve been thrown in some situations that make me uncomfortable, but in a good way.
I firmly believe that God has given us all certain gifts. Paul writes in 1Corinthians that “to each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.” (1 corinthians 12:7) So if we have these gifts for the command good of all people I think we also should be pretty confutable using them. And it’s true that you ask me to get in front of a group of people to preach, teach, perform a poem, make them some coffee, and I’m as comfortable as my pugs on the couch. But to ask me to start basically making cold calls to random adults in the church that I’ve never met to ask them to be adult leaders in our ministry that kind of scares me a bit. However, this is my task, this is my calling, this is where I’m supposed to be, so I do it. I’ve discovered, I don’t suck at it.
I wonder how often God puts us in positions to succeed, He gives us everything that we need and yet we miss something, we never take the risk or the chance because we might feel uncomfortable? I know it’s happened to me a lot. Somehow I think most of the uncomfortableness people experience in the Church, especially one in a bubble like East Cobb County has to do with interacting with strangers. I could easily greet hundreds of strangers every day when I was at a coffee shop. It would be a little awkward and I would be fired pretty quick if I never talked with them. However now that it’s still part of my job and on a much more intimate level I think about it from the perspectives of the people that it’s not their “job.” When I was in high school Jesus grabbed me when I was going into my senior year. No one invited me to church even though I desperately wanted to go and eventually stopped resisting the call of God and went. I think about when I would have gone in a heartbeat if someone just asked me to. But no one spoke up.
Maybe it’s because we might be scared to talk about our faith. Maybe there are some people that think church is an exclusive thing that they like to be members of and if more people join it loses it’s value. Yet I’m reminded constantly that we have something that doesn’t belong to us. The gospel belongs to the world. If it belongs to the world we can never and should never think of ourselves as an exclusive club that loses value the more inclusive we are. The Church from it’s very beginning was never meant to only be for certain people who pass a test or have the right characteristics. The Church as they say is for everyone. A church that lives within it’s four walls is no church at all. My friend James Barnett reminded me of something important this week when in a message he was preaching to Embrace Church in Sioux Falls he said: “What’s the point of being healed if we just hang out in hospitals?”
If we come to church and we are healed. Which as a believer in Christ you may not have healed of a disease, or a broken bone, or had a demon cast out of you. But we have been healed of the stain of sin in our lives and we have been redeemed and healed of the pain and sickness that causes death. We know that Jesus put death in his grave and we are no longer bound to the life that might have been. We are healed and now it’s our job not to hang out in hospitals with other folks that have been healed of their sin but to go into the world. To be uncomfortable in how we ask people to come to church. To be confident that if we are being asked to do something uncomfortable we can have the confidence that God will show us the way to make it happen.
When we go into the world with seeds of hope and love we can start to see the world with new eyes. There is a filter in which we interact with the world with a rose haze of love. As C.S. Lewis has said “There are no ordinary people, you have never talked to a mere mortal.” These immortals that we talk with, work with, joke with, walk by everyday might not realize that they have an inheritance in Christ and we just need to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Sometimes it’s a simple act of a smile that can communicate love beyond our understanding so that we can live giving hospitality to strangers as well as the people we know well. Not only are they not ordinary but either are we, we are the hand with which Christ will bless the world. Because what if we’ve not only been saved from something, but we’ve been saved for something too?