Prioritizing God’s Values Over Comfort-Driven Theologies
WARNING: THIS POST MAY INCREASE THE BLOOD PRESSURE OF RELIGIOUS READERS.
WARNING: LONG POST
Here is what we are up against:
But you need to be aware that in the final days the culture of society will become extremely fierce. People will be self-centered lovers of themselves and obsessed with money. They will boast of great things as they strut around in their arrogant pride and mock all that is right. They will ignore their own families. They will be ungrateful and ungodly. They will become addicted to hateful and malicious slander. Slaves to their desires, they will be ferocious, belligerent haters of what is good and right. With brutal treachery, they will act without restraint, bigoted and wrapped in clouds of their conceit. They will find their delight in the pleasures of this world more than the pleasures of the loving God. They may pretend to have a respect for God, but in reality they want nothing to do with God’s power. Stay away from people like these! For they are the ones who worm their way into the hearts of vulnerable women, spending the night with those who are captured by their lusts and steeped in sin. They are always learning but never discover the revelation-knowledge of truth.2 Timothy 3:1-7
Anything that Paul says the world will be doing should be the furthest thing from those who have responded to Jesus and picked up a life completely sold out to what Jesus calls us to. As I look around at the chosen ones who have picked up the cross to follow Jesus, I do not see an outright abhorrence to the description of the world’s behavior.
We can not be caught in a comfort zone of loving ourselves or in a cycle of saying Jesus is teaching us but never living out the truth.
“Managing” our lives to get what we want, gossiping about others to make ourselves feel better, look like we know more, or are better than someone else is what the world does and should not be found in the church of Jesus Christ. Mediocrity, lack of passion, tolerating sin in those we like all the while judging others, and letting values and morals slide only slightly behind the world’s freefall are all things that are more evident in churches today than ever before.
The challenges of persecution and being challenged unto death for our faith seem to be forgotten in the face of the “abuse” of a challenging gospel preacher, personal growth, and the comfort-breaking change that brings “annoying” personal growth and accountability.
Jesus documents the plan of action that the chosen ones should adopt in these “difficult end times.” We seem to shy away from the core requests of Jesus because they persecute our comfort. Here is a summary of what Jesus needs the church to get right in end times (Revelation 2-3):
- We must remain passionate about Him and not grow indifferent. Remaining excited about our REAL commission will prevent us from using man-made cotton-wool pleasantries to define our commission.
- We must prepare for real persecution – even in our 1st world context. We must stop calling comfort-breaking change persecution. We will be challenged if we remain tenaciously loyal to Jesus and everything He stands for, but we won’t be ready for it if we use our comfort as a shield instead of our faith.
- Compromise is not an option. We have compromised too much in the Christian world of diluted biblical principles. We don’t want the world to think badly of us (avoid persecution), so we compromise. It is Satan’s primary weapon against the values and principles of Christ taking root in the world.
- Sexual immorality and spiritual impurity seem to hit the churches that do “so much good.” World-changing leaders are getting caught misleading their congregations so that their own sin is not exposed. Laziness in behavior leads to laziness in morality, and we can not be lazy in these times. Even those who think they are above this corruption must guard themselves, strengthen their families, and look after their marriages.
- Spiritual practices that created vibrant worship in decades past may differ from what is needed now. Just because you found Jesus in a specific way, in a specific worship style, or in a particular denomination does not mean that those practices will be how we reach people today. Give others space to breathe the life-giving air of Jesus for themselves. Our insistence on resisting change is killing off churches almost daily and is not reaching those who need Jesus the most. Change is not compromise!
- Our church plans have gotten way too complicated. Programs and plans, vision statements, and strategies are becoming missional cholesterol. Let’s get back to the simplicity of the message and impact of the Gospel. A sinner’s prayer, a 5-step plan, or a discipleship class does not change hearts; the Holy Spirit does. Simplicity and clarity will amplify Jesus and bring the church back to its effectiveness.
- Jesus’ harshest reprimand to a church is to those caught in the lukewarm bath of religion. Compromise, pridefulness, and ungodliness are the symptoms of a lukewarm church. We have become self-absorbed and ineffective.
Our individual response is to start listing churches (not our own) that fall into this category. Do not be looking at the group of people down the road or the church you just left because you did not like the color of the paint in the lobby; look at your own heart – WE ARE THE CHURCH.
In pursuing the values Christ needs in us during these times, Christians must remember that God’s values and principles should always precede mere religious rituals or man-made ideologies. These are comfort keepers. It’s a call to prioritize God’s requests, even when those priorities challenge our comfort or convenience. Here are four personal steps you can take to place God’s will above our comfort-driven religious practices.
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33
This verse by Jesus emphasizes the primacy of seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness above all else. It reminds us that pursuing God’s values should come before our personal comfort or desires.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
God’s plans for us are greater than any comfort we might seek. This verse encourages us to trust His dreams for our lives, and even if they challenge our comfort zone, stop waiting for Him to roll the plan out for us, but hear the plan and work on it no matter the cost!
“Then he said to them all: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.'” Luke 9:23
Following Christ involves self-denial and a willingness to leave our comfort zones. This scripture highlights that God’s requests may lead us away from comfort-driven practices but lead us closer to Him.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
This verse instructs us not to conform to worldly patterns and ideologies, emphasizing the importance of renewing our minds according to God’s values. It’s a reminder that God’s values may often contradict what the world deems comfortable or acceptable.
As Christians, our faith journey is not about being comfortable in our religious practices or conforming to man-made ideologies. Instead, it’s about prioritizing God’s values, dreams, and requests, even when they challenge our comfort. These scriptures remind us that true faith often calls us to step out of our comfort zones, deny ourselves, and follow God’s will above all else. It is, after all, what Jesus needs from His church.