Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Comfort vs. Change

The Sunday School class I'm taking this semester is the Christian Counseling & Education Foundation's How People Change curriculum. I tell you what, no matter how much I study this stuff, it still hits me where it hurts (in a good way, of course).

Last Sunday, we were asked to discuss the question, "If this life is all about being purified [for marriage to Christ], what are your false lovers?"

One of my consistent false lovers is comfort. I love comfort in all of its forms. I will move mountains (from the couch) to preserve my comfort, both physical and emotional.

This love of comfort doesn't square well with one of the most consistent facts of the Christian life: change. God sees a big need for change in our lives and is determined to bring it about. He will move mountain ranges to make this change happen.

In my most honest moments, this divine determination scares me. God loves me too much for me to stay in my comfort. He loves me more than I love myself and my comfort.

My typical mindset in times like these is to wonder what I can do to get out of it. Maybe I can slide under the radar if I don't dip below a certain level? God's radar is too sensitive for that.

"Is it that bad, God?"
"Yes, it's really that bad."

I peeked ahead and this curriculum includes what they call a "Personal Growth Project." My visceral reaction against such a project stares me in the face: I don't actually want to change, I don't think I have much need for change, I can't be much bothered to grow in Christlikeness as long as I can get by with the status quo.


I think the only thing that will motivate me to change is seeing Christ's love as more beautiful and more desirable than my comfort. As with all idols, we only leave them behind when we replace them with something else.

Why is Jesus more desirable than my comfort? Here are three thoughts:

1. He is the only one in history who didn't need to change. Yet he laid aside his own unchangeability and perfection (talk about comfort!) and died to save us from ourselves. That dreaded change was that important to our Savior.

2. He loves us to much to leave us in our sin, no matter how big. It's the whole "whom God loves he disciplines" thing: he loves us more than we love ourselves, and he knows what's best for us.

3. He promises that one day, all this change will be complete (*ahhh, deep breath*). No more need for change, perfect joy, wholeness. In the meantime, all this stretching and tugging of our mortal flesh is preparing our souls for that day.

My pastor preached once years ago about the Scriptures that seem to point to different rewards for the saints in heaven. He said that while no one's joy will be incomplete, there is warrant in Scripture to think that some peoples' joy will be different from that of others. He likened it to cup sizes -- all of our cups will be filled to overflowing, but to the degree that we are faithful in this life, God may actually increase the size of our cups. Those with larger cups have hearts that have already been trained to find fullness and joy in Christ. And God, in his love, is determined to help us grow the size of our cups, whether we want to right now or not.

In my teaching, I love to point people who are sensing the need for change to Philippians 1:6 -- "[I am] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." That is his promise, that he will be faithful to keep changing me until that change is complete, no matter how uncomfortable it makes me.

Even as I'm subjected to the need for change, may he change my heart to embrace his work in me. He is worth it.


Lana Shaw said...

Thanks, I appreciate your posts. This one reminds me of a book that is very much changing me... "Crazy Love," Francis Chan. Check it out, if you're brave!

(by the way, in case you're wondering "who is this random?" I went to college with JR. I found your site somehow when he sent out the invitations to become a fan of Unheralded. I had no idea what that was and tried to find out but instead found my way to your blog. Not sure how that worked but I'm glad I did. I will keep reading.)

Molly said...

Lana, it's nice to "meet" you! I've thoroughly enjoyed meeting a lot of JR's Moody friends, both face-to-face and virtually. "Crazy Love" is on my wishlist ... someday I'll get to it :)