Thefreedictionary.com defines the term comfort zone as “a situation or position in which a person feels secure, comfortable, or in control.” Comfort zones are a part of almost everyone’s daily life, and something we cherish more often than not. Because, let’s be honest, to say someone likes not feeling secure, comfortable, or in control is uncanny, strange, and a little unnerving, to say the least. But sometimes the cultural norm and the things in our everyday lives we grow accustomed to need to be examined and challenged. Sometimes it’s downright necessary to test them, and in turn it helps our walk with Christ to thrive. The bible is full of examples that support this. The verses below are taken from the gospel of Matthew.
22 Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd.
23 After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone,
24 and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
25 Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.
26 When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
28 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.
33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
34 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret.
35 And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him
36 and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. –Mathew 14:22-36
So often this passage of scripture is used to define how we should act and behave regarding our faith. We fall down, we sink, and we fail because we lose sight of Jesus and how He is to impact our life. And it’s right to conclude this when we see what happens to Peter, but there’s a lot more we can draw from what happens on the Sea of Galilee.
Put yourself in Peter’s shoes. You’re in a small, wooden boat that’s being tossed around by strong winds in the middle of the sea. You’re far from shore and all you can think about is making it back to land without drowning. And then, to top it all, you think you’ve seen a ghost and are unsure if it’s Jesus or not. Peter probably was already scared to death and you would be too. You hear the voice of the figure walking on the water telling you to step out and walk towards him. Peter is used to storms, winds and those kinds of things because he’s a fisherman. He experiences it all the time. We can probably assume that these kinds of things are just features of his everyday life; something he’s used to. But walking on water? Yes, definitely out of anyone’s comfort zone, including Peters. And he put his trust in Jesus and decided to get a little uncomfortable.
The thing is, we as Christians don’t really do all that great of a job following in Christ’s footsteps. We have a routine, we do what makes us feel the most secure, and we’re not willing to take risks for God. The faith we acquire through Jesus is not a faith of comfort, stagnancy, or routine. No, faith should take us out of our comfort zones. We as followers of Christ are called to throw caution to the wind and get out there to make a difference with reckless abandon. Look at the life Jesus led. He hung out with the rejects, the unloved, and the scum of society. He went against the flow of culture and norms of the day and took a stand for what he thought was right, as uncomfortable as it undoubtedly made Him. He was human and probably enjoyed being laughed at, judged by his peers and superiors, and ridiculed as much as you and I do. And He willingly died a painful death for you and me when He didn’t have to. To top it all off, He did it gladly, adopting a serving heart towards any and all, and towards the will of God.
When we decide to reach out to that person we never would’ve dreamed of talking to, or go somewhere to serve, or decide to show love to someone we may not like, we adopt the characteristics of our Savior. And when we decide to step out of what makes us comfortable or what we’re used to, it makes it seem almost effortless to love others and to serve.
To put it simply, getting out of our comfort zone helps mold us to have a serving heart.
Remember when Jesus washed his disciple’s feet? It’s a perfect example of how we are to live. He threw off the routine that He was comfortable with, got down on hand and knee, and washed the feet of those inferior to Him. He served by doing the unthinkable. He did for others by putting to death His own needs and what was easy for Him. We are called to do the same. We need to reach out to those around us and love our neighbors the way God has loved us. And you can’t serve and love others while being comfortable, secure, and in control 100% of the time, or even the majority of the time.
As people, we are offered two gifts from God. The first is one that we can choose to accept; it is the fact that salvation has been extended to all of us, despite how unworthy we are. We merely have to believe in Jesus. The second is one that everyone gets no matter what; it is simply the gift of life. We are given an opportunity to live on Earth as humans and have free will, freedom, etc. However, God never intended for us to expend this second gift by simply going through life nonchalantly, and doing whatever we feel is easiest and most secure for us. No, God intended life to be exciting, different, unique and wonderful. God’s not a fan of comfort zones.
We are to be followers of Christ and it needs to be evident. The absolute essence of being a Christian is found in letting go of what makes us and our human nature comfortable and complacent, and loving Jesus as we serve and love others. So today, step out from your comfort zone. Take a risk to be a witness for Jesus and to love or serve someone because He did the same for you.