This will be the most me-focused, raw post to date, so if that makes you uncomfortable, I won’t make you keep reading (I don’t always put myself out there in this way). But I encourage you to stay and let yourself be challenged like I have. There’s something that has been on my mind lately, that I haven’t quite been able to put a finger on — until last night.
At our Wednesday evening worship services, we usually have a Bible study with different classes based on age, singing, prayer, and a short sermon or message before one last song and a closing prayer. During that small sermon, our preacher took us to Luke 18:18-23; that’s the story of the rich young ruler.
In this story, there’s a man who is very rich, and he wants to know how to receive eternal life: “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answers by saying that no one is good but God (a humble response from our Savior, always pointing to God), and he lists some of the commandments that we also find in the Book of Exodus. Ruler (I’ll call him this to make typing and reading easier) replies that he’s kept all of these things since he was young.
This is what followed:
“So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, ‘You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.’ But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.” (vv. 22-23)
There are a couple of points our preacher made last night that I want to bring out. The first is that Ruler’s sorrow was symmetrical to how rich he was — he became very sorrowful because he was very rich. He based so much trust and love and comfort on the stuff he owned that he was equally as sad to be told to give it all up. How sad is that? The more he had, the less he was willing to sacrifice.
Next point: People often think (and I’m guilty of this), “I’m so glad that Jesus wouldn’t ask me to do that.”
The attitude behind this way of thinking is appalling. Who are we to say what Jesus would ask of us? How great do we think we are? If this is something I’m guilty of thinking, then this is exactly what Jesus would ask me to do, because we have to give things up to follow Christ. If I’m putting more stock in what I own than what Jesus offers, then that’s what I need to give up the most.
Upon hearing these points, I asked myself what this thing is for me, what I find the most uncomfortable to give up. What would I say, “I’m glad He’d never ask me to do that” about?
You know what I came up with? Comfort. Just comfort. And the more comfort I find, the more uncomfortable I feel about giving up even a small portion of that; my comfort level is symmetrical to my sorrow. I’ve lived most of my life in my comfort zone, looking for more ways to be comfortable instead of ways to move through discomfort gracefully. It’s funny that the thing holding me back the most is something that seems so innocent, something we all feel entitled to. It’s not even something that’s tangible. I can’t hold comfort and I can’t see comfort. But I can feel it. It’s there, and it can be a stumbling block, even a brick wall. I was never promised comfort. I was promised persecution; comfort is only a luxury.
Feelings and emotions or states of being, things like comfort, can be my fiercest enemies if I don’t treat them as a tool instead of a fact. They can make me hobble along, or they can be a foundation on which I can build along with truth and growth. As a shy, sensitive introvert, my emotions like to remain front and center, and comfort is like gold. It can hold me captive: comfort in my own home, comfort with the things I love, comfort with my people, comfort sticking to myself in a large crowd, comfort scrolling through my phone instead of challenging myself to get up and do hard things, comfort only associating with Christians for fear of having to speak up, comfort not sharing the good news because I’m comfortable. The list could go on, but it’s crazy how something as simple as comfort can be so complicated. It’s an idol and an obstruction in my relationship with God.
I know I’m not the only one.
The devil can use your own personality against you. He can pick the thing you feel most strongly about and he can use it push you backward. And he will.
Christians need to be OK with being uncomfortable. We need to be happy about being uncomfortable if that discomfort means that we’re serving God with all that we are and all that we have.
There’s no doubt that comfort is partially, if not entirely, the reason that Ruler became sorrowful; he was comfortable with his abundance and his excess, and comfort became his wall. The rest of his story is sad, yet motivating. I don’t know that he ever decided to give up his riches, but I do know Jesus’ response to Ruler’s sorrow in verses 24-29:
“And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.'” (v.24)
The more we own, the harder it is give it up. I have to recognize that the things I own aren’t truly mine. I have no more right to it than anyone else, even my own comfort. It all belongs to God. The more excess I have, tangible or not, the harder it will be to give it up and give it to God.
The people who heard Jesus’ response asked, “Who then can be saved?” Basically, “if that guy can’t be saved, then who can??” Jesus indirectly answered, but he answered nonetheless. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” Jesus is still saying to forsake all else, He’s just saying that even though it might seem impossible, with God, it’s more than possible. He also implies that it’s more important to give it up than to have it all. Peter then said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” Peter points out that they’ve already forsaken everything else for Jesus’ sake, and he wants to Jesus to know this.
It’s possible with God. It’s feasible with God. I can do whatever the thing is with God. I can give up comfort because God is with me. I can choose to put myself in personally uncomfortable situations because God asked me to and because He won’t abandon me there — if only I’ll trust Him.
Jesus’ reply to Peter’s statement is what’s most edifying, especially after watching Ruler turn Jesus down because he loved his material possessions more.
“So He said to them, “’Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.'” (vv. 29-30)
No one. No one who leaves all he has, people included, for the sake of the kingdom of God will not receive many times more now and eternal life.
There are a lot of things that make me uncomfortable, but what makes me the most uncomfortable, what hurts the most, is that I see myself in this rich, young ruler. No, I’m not rich and I’m not a ruler. But, I have said no to Christ simply so I can say yes to my own comfort, yes to my own insecurity. I’ve kept quiet when I should have spoken up about the gospel and the truth. I’ve given my meager, earthly self priority over other people’s souls and Christ’s crucifixion. That’s what’s really uncomfortable.
In the end, what is my comfort really worth? Not much. And I can say for sure that my comfort is worth giving up for the cause of Christ. Giving up my comfort to share the gospel with others and to be the salt and light and to follow Jesus with all that I am is worth all that He is. Who cares if I have to feel uncomfortable if it means God is being glorified through me? All that I have and all that I am already belongs to Him, and it’s nothing in comparison. I don’t want to care more about the things I enjoy, tangible or not, than I do following Jesus.
(related: Be Holy, For I Am Holy)
“Nothing you have not given away will ever really be yours.”
There are people who need what I have — they need the good news. I cannot allow myself to be selfish with it. And if my comfort gets in the way, then by all means, I ask the Lord to take it away from me and to help me do it afraid. I’m tired of the devil using my personality against me, and I’m tired of this world hungering and thirsting for the truth with no one pointing them in the right direction. This world needs every Christian — every comfortable, stubborn, scared, searching Christian. We need to shine brighter in more darkness — on every platform.
It’s not OK to hide behind comfort, behind a screen, and say that I’m doing enough. Following Christ requires more — more giving, more doing, more praying, more talking, more of me. So, I want to challenge myself to be OK with uncomfortable. I want to focus on that and be what God really wants me to be — a servant and a light — no matter what I need to do to make it a reality and whatever happens as a result. It’s time to get over it.
// What’s your brick wall? What’s your crutch that keeps you from serving God fully? You don’t have to tell me here, but I want you to think about it. No matter how old or young you are, no matter what stage of life you’re in, think about what holds you back the most, what Jesus would have you give up if you asked Him what you need to do.
And then get rid of it.
Thank you for reading! I hope you’re always encouraged to be like Christ and learn more about God’s word when you’re on my blog. If you want to see more like this, follow me on Twitter, Instagram , and Pinterest. Feel free to print, pin, and share my posts on all platforms; I only ask that you link it back to this site. For thoughts and questions, comment directly below or click the Contact Me tab (here) to send an email! Have a blessed day.