Each of us here has a comfort zone. In each of our endeavors, of our engagements, of our encounters, of our enterprises in life, we have a comfort zone. As it applies to our endeavors and engagements in the church, as it applies to our enterprises as a church or a Christian organization, as it applies to our challenging encounters to bring light and seasoning into a dark and tasteless world, we who call ourselves children of God have what can be termed "comfort zones." A comfort zone is the area where we feel satisfied and complacent, strong and confident, secure and cozy, saved and contented.
We believe that each Christian ought to have the desire to be better, but "better" cannot be achieved when we limit ourselves to the satisfaction of our comfort zones. Unless we have the intention to be better, achievement cannot be accomplished, goals cannot be grasped, programs cannot be perpetuated, equipping of the saints cannot be all-encompassing, our witness cannot withstand the temptation not to "go ye therefore," and revival in our churches cannot be realized.
Our being better cannot be achieved when Christian folks limit ourselves to our comfort zones. And the tragedy of that terrible limitation -- which is all too apparent among the saints of God -- is that unity will be undone, ministries will border on mediocrity, opportunities for Kingdom building will be omitted, and -- the greatest tragedy of all -- souls will miss the celestial shores of salvation! Why? Because we did not reach beyond our comfort zones.
I have been challenged to reach beyond my comfort zone, to risk being obedient to the Holy Spirit, in sharing with you a brief passage from the Word of God that is intended to move each and everyone of us beyond our comfort zones. Our text is a familiar verse: "And He was saying to them all, 'If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me'" (NASB
). The Living Bible says, "Then He said to all [there's that word all again, I guess we cannot eliminate ourselves from this text], 'Anyone who wants to follow me must put aside his own desires and conveniences and carry his cross with him everyday and keep close to me'!" The Life Application Bible adds this commentary footnote: "Keep close to me is literally translated 'follow me!' The Christian follows his Lord by imitating His life and obeying His commands. To carry our cross means to deny our selfish desires to do things our own way. Living in this way is costly now, but well worth the pain and effort in the long run."
We must reach beyond our comfort zones. Every day we must imitate Jesus and obey His commands. Every day we must adhere to the contents of the Scriptures. Before I began the transformation process that occurs by studying the Word of God, I thought certain things were okay; I would let my comfort zone dictate my behavior. I used to apply God's Word only in certain areas of my life. That was until I realized that the Word of God says, "In all your ways acknowledge Him." Before, my comfort zone caused me to think church attendance was optional. That was before I understood the significance of the counsel in the Word of God, "Do not forsake the assembly of the saints." A long time ago my comfort zone said, "I'm saved and that settles it." That was before the Word of God impressed on me that "You shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and the uttermost parts of the earth." My comfort zone was satisfied when I gave just a few dollars. That was before God's Word showed me, "Give and it shall be given unto you" and "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse."