Tuesday, January 04, 2011

The Comfort Zone

Last week I received my Voice of the Martyrs newsletter (January 2011 issue) which was structured around Isaiah 61:1-2:
61 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2  to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;

One of the stories was about "Dr. Paul", a surgeon from the Midwest.  In the article, he discussed something we touched on during my Prepared Christian class last year.  Dr. Paul was discussing a trip he had taken to Nigeria and indicated:
"We live in a country that is very unique in the world today.  We read our Bibles, and we go to Sunday school class, and some of us are even involved in outreaches, and we give to missions and we read stories about heroes of old.  When you are going home form work in Nigeria and you are a Christian, it is very possible that you may not come home at night.  But it is possible to come home at night even if you are caught, if you are willing to say, 'Allah is god and Mohammed is his prophet.'

Think about your family at home, and imagine that you are on your way home and you are stopped by a mob of vicious people saying, 'Repeat after me or die.'  Suddenly I realize our faith may be fairly broad theologically, but it is not all that deep sometimes.  These people, they don't know a lot of answers to Bible stories, and they probably can't give a good discussion on why Arminianism and Calvinism are right or wrong.  But I can tell you that when people step up to them with a gun or a knife, and they are asked, 'Will you repeat after me?' and they say, 'No, Jesus is Lord,' their theology is very deep and we need that."

Certainly something to think about.  I think one of the things I figured out during the past year has to do with the depth of my own faith.  Hopefully it has gotten a little deeper than it was a year ago (and maybe even broader theologically as well).  One sign of that I think is my recognition that my path is going to lead me to places where I am not entirely comfortable.  By this I don't just mean going off to dangerous places in the world.  Rather, I also mean getting out of my "inner" comfort zone. I'll have to get out and do things that I probably would not do otherwise.  Much like the people in Nigeria have to leave the comfort of their workplace or their home (admittedly, they are laying down a lot more than I am in those simple acts), I'll have to do the same in a sense.

As I close this post, perhaps Matthew 7:13-14 is a good passage to ponder
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.

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