Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Enemy at the Gated Community

com-fort- n. 1. State of physical ease and freedom from pain or constraint.

Recently I have been thinking about all of the things that led to my leaving my previous job and moving across the world. Although I could list a whole series of events that contributed to the eventual upheaval of my whole life, it all really came down to a simple need for change.
Change is often the solution when life becomes so comfortable that the sense of purpose gets lost in routine. In Orange County, the challenge is that life is designed to be comfortable. One could argue that the very goal of life here is comfort. Planned communities, man-made lakes, manicured landscaping and perpetually updated shopping centers are the norm. The weather fluctuates between a frigid 65 and a balmy 85 degrees.
Churches contribute to this environment of comfort by striving to offer “something for everyone”. The pressure to provide “the best” drives many pastors away from ministry or away from the very reasons they begin ministry in the first place. If pastors are unable to lead a church that makes people comfortable then they are often driven away or criticized to the point of insanity.
In my previous role I did not directly face the challenge to provide comfort for everyone, but I certainly fell into the trap of being content with a comfortable setting. I was in a place that seemed unwilling to break out of the norm and to ask the question, “What if God wants more from us?” In time, I fell victim to the culture of comfort in my own church and my own level of ennui reached a climax. It was then that I realized that the only thing that could help me break free was a major change.
It has now been over 3 years since I quit my job and moved away and I am grateful for the changes that came as a result of that move. But today I must stand on guard against the enemy of comfort in my own faith and now in my new church. I must keep watch that my marriage and relationships do not suffer from comfort (in this case, comfort because we settle for things as they are and not how they could be). As Donald Miller says, “a good story is about a character who knows what he wants and overcomes obstacles to get it”. In order to overcome obstacles we must fight the urge to remain comfortable and we must seek a life of adventure and wonder. Beware, because the biggest obstacle that may stand between you and something great could be a sense of comfort.

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