Wednesday, January 05, 2005
THE DISCOMFORT ZONE
The Discomfort Zone by Keith Giles
Lately I’ve been fascinated with the person of Jesus. He is more incredible, more unsettling, more confounding than my Sunday School teachers lead me to believe.
His words have a bite that most sermons play down, and his commands are more than enough to make anyone squirm in their chair.
I’ve been thinking these days about the huge gap between the life that Jesus led and the life that I live each day. 1 John 2: 6 says that “Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” That’s an astounding and unsettling statement.
I’m finding more and more that my ‘comfort zone’ isn’t pleasing to God. I realize that Jesus didn’t have a comfort zone and that means that neither should I.
Many times I’ve excused myself from helping people in need because I rationalize that they will only use the money for drugs or alcohol, and so I’ve justified not helping them at all. I’ve even assured myself that this is really what God would want me to do because I’m actually being a “good steward” of my money by withholding such assistance.
The funny thing is that Jesus didn’t seem to act this way. In fact, using this logic, Jesus was a really bad steward of his resources because he healed eyes from blindness knowing that those people would surely use their eyes to lust or to covet. He healed withered hands knowing that they would probably use those hands to steal or to do violence to others. He healed lepers who would most likely re-enter society and commit crimes.
Obviously, Jesus wasn’t as much concerned with “being a good steward” as he was with showing compassion on those in need and advancing the Kingdom of God.
Of course, we should be wise in the ways we help people in need. If someone says their in need of food, we can offer to stand in line with them at a nearby fast-food chain and buy them whatever they want to eat. We can engage them in conversation. Ask them their name. Listen to them as they speak. Offer to pray for them as they sit down to eat their food. This is much better than simply throwing money at someone who says they are hungry, and certainly more Christ-like than justifying our lack of assistance as “good stewardship”.
As I was sharing this with my friend Greg Russinger this week he commented that actually the Holy Spirit is all about making us uncomfortable when it comes to the poor. If anything, he said, we need to embrace our “Discomfort Zone” because that’s where Jesus is usually operating in compassion and power.
As we approach this Holiday Season I pray that each of us, myself especially, can embrace our “Discomfort Zones” for the Glory of God.
Mother Teresa once said, “If sometimes our poor people have had to die of starvation, it is not that God didn't care for them, but because you and I didn't give, were not an instrument of love in the hands of God, to give them that bread, to give them that clothing; because we did not recognize him, when once more Christ came in distressing disguise, in the hungry man, in the lonely man, in the homeless child, and seeking for shelter.”
Look for Jesus in the people around you. Ask, “What do they need?” and then ask, “What do I have to share?” Those two questions are more than enough to get us going in the right direction.
“But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!”- Amos 5:24