GenerousChurch

Shaking Off Our Comfortable Lives

by John Richardson  |  June 17, 2015

"The only gift is a portion of thyself."  ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson

                                       ... 

I’m in the midst of an identity crisis.  Not a mid-life crisis…but an identity crisis. 

Our family is moving from our long-time home to a new state.  We’re packing up and leaving our Mississippi roots to head to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.  We’re a bundle of nerves that sometimes touch on excitement and sometimes reverberate with fear.

A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I dropped off the kids at my parents home and made a quick weekend trip to our new home state.  We found a house, made an offer and jumped on a plane to get back before the weekend was over.  It was exhilarating.

Except for one thing...

As we were sitting among strangers in a Fort Collins restaurant, I realized that I was losing my identity.  As we move away from familiar faces, we are – at least temporarily – releasing our identities.  People don’t know us and approach us as friends in Colorado.  No one in the “Centennial State” (I had to look up the reason for that name) knows my profession or that my wife and I have three amazing girls.  Past accomplishments are morphing into anecdotal stories and local, professional networks are proving less and less valuable.

In Mississippi, I clearly know where I fit into the culture.  In Colorado, I’m a curiosity.

In that sense, starting something new makes me uncomfortable.   And I kind of enjoy being comfortable.

Interestingly, as GenerousChurch has surveyed 60,000 church members, we’ve identified “comfort” as the one major trait that can tip us off to the future success or failure of a generosity movement within the church.  Churches that report higher levels “long-time Christians who are comfortable with their relationship to Jesus” are bound to struggle.  Starting a church-wide movement toward generous living is incredibly difficult for people who are comfortable. 

Remarkably, this discovery is verification of something that you already know.  Scripture often reminds us that comfort can be a hindrance to following the ways of God.  Jesus told us to “take up our crosses” in order to follow Him (Matthew 16:24).  Paul noted that the life of faith is a daily act of “offering our bodies as living sacrifices” (Romans 12:1-2).  James starts his letter by reminding us to endure hardships with joy (James 1:2) and Jesus further tells potential disciples that they may not be ready to follow Him because of the need to lay aside their comforts (Mark 10:17-27 and Luke 9:57-62).Dog shaking it off

In other words…if we are going to truly follow Jesus…if we are going to imitate His generous ways…we are going to have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

For my family and me, that currently means that we have to part with our known identities.  We have to embrace the idea that we are – as the writer of Hebrews says – “foreigners and strangers on earth” (Hebrews 11:13).  We have to embrace the idea that as we give up our identities, we participate in something much bigger… 

—   Kingdom citizens generously give up their identities for the sake of God’s mission.

—   Kingdom citizens generously exchange their rights for the opportunity to love God and love others.

—   Kingdom citizens generously choose their words to build up those around them.

—   Kingdom citizens generously give away their possessions to others in need.

—   Kingdom citizens forgive the debts of others as God has forgiven their own debts.

—   Kingdom citizens generously go two miles when only one is required.

—   Kingdom citizens generously love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them.

Kingdom citizens learn to shake off comfort for the sake of true joy and intimacy with the King.  (Tweet that!)

I don’t know what life will look like six months from now.  But, I’m not willing to take on the risks of comfort at this point. 

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To read more about shaking off your comforts and following Christ in generous living, check out the resources below.

Generosity Day
Happy Life
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