Comfort is my preference. Last Friday, when a downed tree crashed through my fence, my plans changed in an instant. Editing gave way to fencing, even though the sky was overcast and rain threatened. I didn’t mind repairing the fence on a beautiful day with blue skies and perfect temperatures, but fence work on a cold and rainy day is not my favorite. I did it anyway, because it had to be done.
The ease of comfortable discipleship
When the weather is perfect, the circumstances of life are pleasant, and health is good, the obedience of discipleship is fairly easy for me and, I suspect, for most of us. I enjoy a time of few challenges. When those circumstances change, however, I’m not always as enthusiastic about the work of hard, painful service.
The peril of uncomfortable discipleship
Sickness. Broken relationships. Financial woes. Wayward family members. The list of problems we face is long and coping is hard. If we’re not careful, our level of comfort can affect our faithfulness in ways we don’t intend. It’s easy to move our focus from Jesus to whatever difficulty we face.
A story from Luke 6:1 shows us the disciples’ response to less than perfect circumstances, and it’s one we should adopt. Here’s a quick paraphrase:
Jesus and His disciples headed out from here to there, walking through a grain field.The disciples were hungry, so they broke off some of the grain heads and began to eat them. Raw grain. Straight from the stalk. Not a single complaint about the fare or demand to stop somewhere to eat cooked food. No one grumbled or whined about the less than idyllic provision.
Elaborate meals and constant comfort were not part of their contract. Jesus called them to follow, and they did, whether the trek led through a sumptuous feast or a grain field. If they were hungry, they ate what Jesus provided along the way.
Our response to discomfort
I prefer perfectly seasoned, well-cooked meals when I’m hungry. I can eat raw grain from the field, but I don’t often choose it. As I read the story this morning, I wondered about my response to Jesus’ provision if I’d been walking with them that day. Would I have complained aloud? Secretly seethed? Grumbled in my heart or offered whispered whining to my fellow disciples?
When Jesus called Peter and his partners to walk away from the miracle of a boat-load of fish, He did not promise comfort. He simply said, “Follow me.” No matter where the disciples went, they knew Jesus would be there with them, in the circumstance. He shared the good times and they bad.
Discipleship is contingent upon nothing.
It's easy to be a disciple when we are comfortable. The question we all must answer is whether or not we will follow in a difficult and uncertain situation.
Discipleship contingent upon favorable circumstances is not discipleship at all.
Serving Christ is because of Who He is and not what He gives. Just as important, serving Christ includes accepting what He provides without grumbling or complaining. It also includes accepting what He chooses not to provide.
Jesus promised the disciples trouble, tribulation, and difficulty, (John 16:33) but He also promised He had already overcome all the difficulty the world might bring. Discipleship, He told them, involved picking up a cross and carrying it with them every single day. To save their lives meant losing them. (Luke 6:3-24)
The blessings of hard discipleship and contentment
Nowhere did He offer ease. Instead, Jesus offered peace, rest, His presence, and the promise of an eternal home in Heaven. He promised our basic needs, not our extravagant wants, would be met. The pages of Scripture are filled with the promises of God. He gives what we need and He is with us in whatever we face.
Disciples trade their desires for Christ’s provision. It’s that simple. It’s that hard. Let’s invite a Holy Spirit inspection of our heart, our expectations, our desires, but be prepared to see our hearts as God sees them. Are we content with what God has given us, or do we complain and continually ask for more? Do we hold back from abandoned obedience because of fear of less than we want?
Today, let’s pray for a heart that is content with whatever God provides, and grateful for whatever circumstances He allows. Let’s serve our Savior no matter what He chooses to give or withhold.
“…I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11