It’s safe to say that comfort is something we look for in just about everything: we want a comfortable car to drive, a comfortable couch to sit on, a comfortable job, and a comfortable church to attend.
Comfort in itself isn’t bad; in fact, I like to feel comfortable. I like to sit down on a good, comfortable chair and read a good book, watch a good movie, or take a good nap.
But, comfort isn’t something I should expect as a Christian, and it shouldn’t be a criteria to look for in your church. As, the author of Hebrews, explains, it’s a dangerous road to go down.
Hebrews 5:11-14, “About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.”
The author of Hebrews admonished the church because they became complacent in the word of God. They had become so complacent that they needed the basic principles of the oracles of God retaught them. Not a simple refresher course (something we could all do with from time to time), but a re-teaching of the basic principles in the oracles of God.
I can sympathize with the Hebrew church because seeking comfort over growth in grace is something I struggled with – and still do. For example, I didn’t want to feel the weight of the implication of the Great Commission and what it means to give it all up to spread the gospel. I also didn’t want to feel the force of James 1:27’s call to look after the widows and orphans and to be unstained from the world. to fall on me. Additionally, I didn’t want to feel convicted when David proclaims how he has hidden God’s Word in his heart, knowing I didn’t have many verses memorized.
No one likes to squirm as the pastor preaches through hard texts of Scripture. I didn’t want to feel convicted of my sin, I wanted to hear happy sermons that tell me I’m a pretty good guy, and as long as I keep showing up Sunday mornings, giving tithes, and showing up to the occasional prayer meeting, I’m good to go.
But that’s not how God called us to live, and it’s not what God called my pastor to preach. Thankfully though this is something, God taught me by being a member of a local body of believers who sought to grow up in Christ.
Let me tell you something that I needed to hear: Your pastor is not your motivational speaker. God called your pastor, and mine, to rightly handle the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15), and to reprove, rebuke, and exhort the sheep (2 Timothy 4:2) God entrusted to him.
That means you are to grow under his teaching. Have you ever had growing pains? Do you remember them? I do. They hurt. I’d wake up, and my legs were hurting, bad. But my mom and dad reminded me what they were: growing pains. Through those pains, I was getting taller, running faster, jumping higher. The pain hurt, but it brought needed growth.
That’s sanctification should feel like. We are silver in God’s hands as he molds, refines, and grows us into the image of his son Jesus Christ. And he does that most often through the faithful preaching of his word in the community of the local church.
If, in your search for a local church, you come across a pastor whose sermons convict, admonish, and encourage you, and you find out the people of that church will not only cheer you on in your walk with Christ but will also (lovingly) call you out when in sin, keep attending that church.
It’s not all going to be “pain and gain” as they say in the weightlifting world. I’ve made some of my best friends and had some of the best times at my local church. The same friends, who have had to have hard conversations with me about sin in my life, are the same ones who continually cheer me on in my walk with Christ. The process of growth is painful; the fruit of growth is joyful.
There is comfort to be found in Christ and the local church, but it’s a different type of comfort. It’s the comfort found in the golden chain of redemption (Romans 8:28-30), of knowing that all the pain and hardships of this life, work for our good and God’s glory. The comfort of knowing Christ the King is completely different than the comfort of listening to a motivational speaker instead of a convicting sermon.
Never stop growing. Thankfully, and most graciously, God has not left us to walk that painful process of growth on our own. He works in and through us for our good and his glory as he builds us up in love into Christ (Philippians 2:13-14; Ephesians 4:15-16).
Let the words of Hebrews 13:13-14 remind us our true home and comfort are not found here below:
“Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.”