Chapter 1 – Embrace the Discomfort

From the book: “Uncomfortable: The Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community” by Brett McCracken

  • There is a reverse correlation between being comfortable and growing as a person.

Growth only comes when there is a challenge, and challenge is not comfortable.

This is something that begins every morning when we decide whether to stay comfortably in bed or get up and start the day. A couple of historical figures had a position on this.

“At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’” (Marcus Aurelius, Meditations)

“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10-11, 24:33-34, ESV)

So we must embrace the discomfort of the challenge and embrace the comfort of the growth and accomplishments that result from accepting the challenge. Psychologist Jordan Peterson puts it this way:

“To stand up straight with your shoulders back is to accept the terrible responsibility of life, with eyes wide open. It means deciding to voluntarily transform the chaos of potential into the realities of habitable order. It means adopting the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accepting the end of the unconscious paradise of childhood, where finitude and mortality are only dimly comprehended. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to generate a productive and meaningful reality (it means acting to please God, in the ancient language).”
― Jordan B. Peterson, 12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos

It is in this “acting to please God” that we can know the challenge is worthwhile.

  • Let’s apply this to Christianity and the Church.

Do you agree with the author that “Christianity isn’t collapsing, it’s being clarified?”

Consider the following scriptures:

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.” (Revelation 3:15-16, ESV)

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2, ESV)

We are followers of the Gospel of Christ or followers of secular culture. They are incompatible.

“If you want a religion to make you feel comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.” (C. S. Lewis, God in the Dock)

  • What do you think about the author’s comments on Moralistic Therapeutic Deism?

Here is a link to an excellent article that explains this idea simply but more thoroughly. “On ‘Moralistic Therapeutic Deism’ as U.S. Teenagers’ Actual, Tacit, De Facto Religious Faith”

  • Do we choose a church because it is comfortable and makes us feel good about ourselves, or do we choose a church that challenges us to be a better Christian?

I recently encountered the following quote: “Every good thing that has happened in your life happened because something changed.” – Andy Andrews.

It is in times of change that we become most uncomfortable. However, this is when the most personal growth can occur if we embrace the lessons to be learned. This does not mean we must agree with every change, but we must be open to seeing the positive impact of change. By experiencing the way others worship, we can learn new ways to worship. By experiencing the different understandings that others have of the scriptures, we can better understand them ourselves.

Christ did not call us to a life of comfort, but to a life of bearing our cross.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matthew 16:24-26, ESV)

“This is not about losing one’s physical life, but about losing one’s worldly life in exchange for a spiritual one. Rejecting the attractions of the world and embracing the attractions of Christ. Giving up the perishable for the imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 15:50).

Rejecting personal comfort and reaching outside of ourselves by coming to the cross is what being the Church means. However, let’s be clear about what this means.

“Christianity is not a faith of self-loathing, fetishizing persecution, and adopting a martyrdom complex. Christianity is not about seeking out suffering; it’s about seeking first the kingdom of God. It’s not about celebrating our pain and brokenness; it’s about celebrating our redemption through the blood of Christ.” (pg. 42)

Let me end this with another quote from Jordan Peterson:

“The purpose of life, as far as I can tell… is to find a mode of being that’s so meaningful that the fact that life is suffering is no longer relevant.”
― Jordan B. Peterson, Maps of Meaning: The Architecture of Belief

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