Should Following Jesus Be This Comfortable?

FearGodDuring my time studying the Bible I was drawn to the account of King Saul in 1Samuel 15.  Samuel the prophet tells Saul a specific instruction from the Lord :

Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them.  Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys. 1Samuel 15:3

Saul gathers the men, attacks the Amalekites but spares the king of the Amalekites as well as the best sheep and cattle, fat calves and lambs “everything that was good”. Anything that was weak they destroyed, but kept all of the good animals.  (1Samuel 15:9)

The Lord was angered and sends Samuel back to Saul to find out what happened,  which King Saul says:

“The Lord bless you! I have carried out the Lord’s instructions.” 1Samuel 15:13)

WHAT?!  I look at that and think how deceived Saul was and how misguided his decision to do almost the opposite of what the Lord told him to do.  I can almost hear Saul, in a proud voice say that he had carried out the Lord’s instructions.  However he has missed the mark! Samuel tells him of his sin, to which Sauls eventual response is

I was afraid of the men, and so I gave in to them. 1Samuel 15:24

Fear of man crept in and derailed the Lord’s plan and it cost Saul his kingship and blessing from God.  During the battle Saul thought he hit the bullseye of God’s plan.  He was comfortable and deceived.

This account is not far off of the fear of man that is prevalent in my own life.  Too often I am reminded of the commands of God, or hear a specific prompting from God but choose to modify or ignore Him or modify His prompting to remain comfortable.

I chose not to share the Gospel with the auto parts clerk whose life seemed to be in shambles. I encouraged her, but did not share that there was hope in a life with Jesus and left the store with the part I needed, but left her missing the greatest joy in life. How much do you have to hate someone not to share the love of Christ with them? (…love your neighbor as yourself – Leviticus 19:18)

I chose not to help the homeless men this month who were encamping under the bridge again in downtown South Bend during the summer.  I thought that our ministry over the winter was good enough. How easy it is for me to think I’ve hit the bullseye in God’s plan yet miss the mark.  (For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in… Matthew 25:35)

Those were just two recent examples highlighting my fear of man instead living out of a fear of the Lord.  I was concerned that others in the auto-parts store might be bothered and I was concerned about my own time and my families time so I chose to be comfortable.  As I share this I have this thought:

“Should following Jesus be this comfortable?”

It’s time to re-evaluate my (our) priorities and my (our) focus. Where in the Bible does it say that following God’s plan isn’t going to hurt and be uncomfortable? Paul’s answer to this is pretty clear:

“Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches.” (2 Cor 11:24-28)

I spoke to you again and again….. God is calling you

UnknownToo often people believe that God is distant and does not want to communicate with them.  They believe that their situation is “different” or “challenging” and that their life situation is so bad they wonder why God would want to talk to them or listen to their situation.  Some even question if God has the time to worry about their situation!

While reading the book of Jeremiah I was reminded that God is listening to us intently – desiring to pull people out of their troubled situations into greatness.   If we are in the middle of sin, he’s calling us “again and again” to repent and turn towards Him.   In the beginning of the book of Jeremiah it states that the tribe of Judah was doing some rotten things against God (read the first 7 chapters of Jeremiah to find out why God isn’t happy with them). It would be difficult to make your life more of a mess than what the people of Judah had done. Yet God makes this statement to Jeremiah about Judah:

“While you were doing all these things, declares the LORD, I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer.” Jeremiah 7:13

Sometimes when things are not headed in the right direction and we are crying out to God and wondering why we think he isn’t listening, he actually is…. Later God explains to Jeremiah:

I have listened attentively but they do not say what is right. None of them repent for their wickedness saying ‘What have I done'” Jeremiah 8:6

When you are in the middle of a season where you cry out to God and ask Him to intervene or cry out and wonder if He is listening, these verses serve as a reminder that He is calling us again and again and He is listening attentively no matter the situation we are in.  Even if we are have forsaken Him.  God is not too busy to communicate to you.  You haven’t messed up so badly that He wants to ignore you.  He loves you and wants to speak to you again and again and He is still listening to you attentively.