“In any given moment we have two options: to step forward into growth, or to step back into safety.”
— Abraham Maslow
I think Abraham Maslow only got this partially right. At any given moment, we have two options: to step forward into growth or to step back into safety, which will eventually lead to loss.
In reality, stagnation is a myth. If we choose to play it safe in life, we will end up eventually losing the very thing we are trying to protect. To put this more tangibly, a well-established, scientific fact is the second law of thermodynamics, which demonstrates that, given enough time, if energy is not continually fed into a system, that system will run out of energy completely.
We experience this all the time in our everyday lives. If we don’t put fuel in our gas tanks, pay our electric bills or feed our pets, those things will eventually stop working. This running out of energy is called entropy, and the only way to prevent entropy is to continue to feed energy into the system.
We see entropy come into play in organizations all the time. Blockbuster had successfully capitalized on the at-home movie experience. However, when Blockbuster had the opportunity to work its way into the video streaming market, the organization refused. Blockbuster played it safe, which was their demise. Their refusal to grow and seek more was their undoing.
If a church decides that it has reached a state of good enough, it won’t be long until entropy begins to occur. Refusing to step out in faith to let God do more in your life and your local church doesn’t produce good enough. Instead, it produces How did we get here? Not trusting in God to fulfill dreams that are beyond your imagination doesn’t produce comfort, it produces fearful, overprotective pride. Not allowing God to do more in your relationship with him and with others doesn’t produce life, it produces death. We are either going forward or backward. Those are our only options.
I was reading an article a while back titled 9 Sins the Church is Okay With. Though the whole article was eye-opening, covering such sins as fear, apathy, gluttony and worry, one sin in particular stood out more than others: the sin of comfort.
The writer argues that when the church becomes comfortable, that church has begun the process of a slow, gradual death. This is because comfort births a resistance to change. Since change is inevitable, resisting change will only result in entropy. The writer warns:
“And here’s the thing about the sin of comfort. Once it shows up, it’s extremely difficult to remove. When you challenge comfort, people don’t just get angry. They get fightin’ mad. Comfort will even tell you to crucify an innocent man.”
The Church wasn’t made for comfort. Jesus didn’t die for comfort. Jesus didn’t give us the Great Commission for comfort. The disciples were not martyred for comfort. If Jesus just wanted us to be comfortable, then Christianity would have never survived outside the first century. Instead, it was the bold, fearless, courageous resolve of Paul, Peter, John, James, and others that literally caused Christianity to explode onto the scene overnight.
So why is comfort such a difficult state to overcome? Why do so much of us settle for mediocrity? Why don’t we expect big things from an infinitely big God?
In the list of sins in the article, it appears that the sin of comfort is inextricably tied to another sin that is prevalent among us Christians: the sin of fear.
Growth requires growing pains. Growth requires risk. Growth requires the possibility of failure. Since growth and asking more from God come with the possibility of all sorts of undesirable side effects, most of us want to play it safe and hedge our bets to avoid even the possibility of hardship.
As followers of Jesus, we are not promised comfort in this present, transient life. If we believe the Bible is God’s Word, it gives us no room to find comfort acceptable. If we believe in the same God who parts seas, heals the sick, and raised Jesus from the dead, comfort shouldn’t even be in our vocabulary.
My prayer is that, as a church and as individuals, we begin to pray God-sized prayers. My hope is that we seek a God-sized vision. My dream is that we don’t just desire more, but a God-sized more. A more that requires not just human effort, but supernatural intervention.
So what do you think God created you for? Comfort or growth? Safety or adventure? Enough or more?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
— Jeremiah 29:11