Let’s face it, we like to be comfortable. We are creatures of comfort! We purchase chairs, couches, recliners, mattresses and multitudes of other things, largely based upon comfort. The vehicles we drive are designed for comfort. And of course, how many of us really want to get rid of our air conditioners which provide us much comfort on hot days? There is no doubt about it, we like our comforts. Now our purpose in this article is certainly not to condemn comfort for I like to be comfortable as much as anyone else. However, it has been said that a preacher’s job is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. At first glance this may seem somewhat of a joke, but in actually, it’s quite true. Concerning the comforting of the afflicted, all Christians should be actively involved in this work. When we see those who are hurting or in need, we should offer our help to alleviate their discomfort. It’s that other part of that statement that we wish to address. Why would anyone need to be afflicted because they are comfortable?
Let us start with the reason that was likely in the mind of the one who made that statement in the first place. All too often, Christians are unwilling to get out of their comfort zone. In other words, if that which is asked, desired or even commanded of them is something that they feel a bit uncomfortable with, they simply will not do it. It could be they are uncomfortable with speaking before a large number of people. It could be they are uncomfortable with sharing the truth of God’s word with others. They may be uncomfortable with visiting those who are sick or who are newly moved into the area. Now, all these things are things that the word of God tells us that Christians must do in order to be faithfully fulfilling our role as Christians. Sometimes, someone needs to afflict (point out their wrong) such Christians. So, Christians who are such in name only, willing rather to sit comfortably on the sidelines while others carry out the Lord’s work than to get out of their comfort zone and do their part, need to be afflicted.
But, there is another application of this idea of people be comfortable in the realm of Christianity that we wish to spend the remained of this article considering. Just because one is comfortable with their doctrines, practices and worship does not mean such doctrine, practices and worship is pleasing in the eyes of God. In the twelfth chapter of the book of First Kings, we read where the nation of Israel was divided into two nations, Judah and Israel. Jeroboam was chosen as king for the northern kingdom of Israel. Jeroboam determined that if the children of Israel went back to Jerusalem to worship as God had instructed, they might turn again to the king of Israel and against him. He therefore set up two golden calves, one in Dan and the other in Bethel and told them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem…” (I Kings 12:28). He went on to provide a priesthood, feast days and offerings, “which he had devised of his own heart” (I Kings 12:33). What king Jeroboam did was make a religion that was contrary to God’s way, comfortable for the people to be a part of. They were religious, they may well have been zealous in their religion and they may have been quite comfortable in their religion, but they were sinning.
Many today are what they are, religiously speaking, because they are comfortable with their beliefs, practices and worship. One major denomination states in their creed book, “Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort”. It may well be comforting to believe that everyone that believes in Jesus Christ is saved, but this is really no different than the Jews believing that they could worship a golden calf made by Jeroboam, in Dan or Bethel and in the ways devised by Jeroboam and still be in harmony with God. The gospel of Christ clearly demands obedience as well as faith. There is no doubt that faith is required (John 3:16; 8:24). Were it only a matter of belief in Jesus Christ as the son of God, both Satan and the various devils mentioned in the New Testament would all be saved, for they believed Jesus to be the son of God (Matt. 8:28-29). The word of God clearly teaches that one must first believe in Christ, including the fact that as Son of God, He has all authority (Matt. 28:18; Heb. 1:1-2) and then be obedient to His word, the gospel of Christ, in order to be saved (Heb. 5:8-9).
When asked why people are members of the specific religious group of which they are members, the often heard answers are that they were raised in that religion, that particular religious group has a congregation close by or that they like what they teach and what they practice. Although one must certainly worship with the comfort of knowing they are pleasing to God, being comfortable with a religions doctrine, belief or practice that is not authorized by the word of God is a dangerous religion. Please make sure your Christianity is the true Christianity found in God’s word. (Send any questions or comments to: [email protected])
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.