As a first time grandparent, I am paying more attention to babies again. One thought that has occurred to me is that young babies simply seek comfort. They want to be held in a comfortable way, be fed when they are hungry, burp when they need to, and have their diaper changed. That desire for comfort is essential to their survival. But at some point, people need to mature to the stage where seeking comfort is not the only motivation driving their actions. An adult whose only interest is their own comfort is no longer cute and appealing; at best they elicit our pity, at worst our scorn.
I live in one part of Edmonton and I am comfortable there. I have what I need for life as I live it. I know where to find things and how to access what I need. I also have my church family. I know how it works, who offers what, and I am comfortable with them. I have my friends, and I am comfortable with them. If I make my life choices based only on what is comfortable for me, I could easily begin functioning much like a baby. I can be motivated largely by my own comfort, by what is good for me, and not let what is good for others shape how I live.
We seem to be living in an era where we have elevated “looking out for number one” to a virtue. We argue for our group’s rights and comforts over what another group needs, demand that one province’s position be honoured by all other provinces, expect that my desires for a church service be met fully, and on and on it goes. But it seems rare that we stop to ask what is really good for all of us, what is the best for the whole group (or church, nation, etc)?
That is obviously a vast over-simplification of very complex issues. But it reminds me that we need people who truly take the gospel seriously. The gospel of Jesus is not about our personal comfort. God did anything but pursue his own comfort in stepping into this world. And once he arrived, he continued to serve and give and die. The gospel is centred around the personal sacrifice of God. That is the upside-down aspect of the Kingdom. The King does not pursue his own comfort but instead addresses the needs of his subjects, and then invites us to imitate him in doing what is best for others. “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2).
There are people who take the gospel seriously among us.
Here is some more good news. There are people who take the gospel seriously among us. They lead youth groups at your church on Friday night when they could be doing anything but being with junior high kids. They are helping refugees find groceries, and providing transportation for seniors. They are sweating as they plant churches in rural Thailand and provide housing for refugees in Bangkok. They are inviting their neighbours for barbecues and providing day homes for neighbourhood children. These are people who are not looking out for their own interests but serving others for the sake of King Jesus. They show us a way beyond seeking our own comfort and model what the way of Jesus looks like. “The Kingdom of God is in your midst” (Luke 17:21). – Wayne Tomalty