Why Comfortable Is Not Compassionate

We have a natural tendency to seek comfort.

Of course, we all need comfort in times of troubles, and we were actually designed for a relationship with the Comforter. But all good things can be distorted.

We can become obsessed with comfort.

Recently, I had the incredible opportunity to go with my wife and 6 teens passionate about following Jesus and loving others. We joined a couple other groups to minister to those in need in South Chicago, and we all had to give up what was “normal” to us in a variety of ways.

We slept on floors, ate very little, worked hard and rested enough to keep going. Actually, it sounds a lot like Jesus’ life. In other words, anything but comfortable.

One night, one of the administrators of the trip came in to shut things down when it was time for lights out. He was about to shut the door when one adult spoke up.

“You need to leave that door open so we can get some more air in here.”

“I did adjust the thermostat in this room for you all,” the leader said knowing how warm it was the night before.

The adult replied, “All I know is that if I wake up at 2 a.m. in a sweat, I’m going to be pissed.”

Silence. (Which is amazing from 20 teens in the room who heard the whole conversation.)

My heart broke for the leader. I was saddened for those teens. We were there to be passionate about Jesus and others, but these words were of deep passion for self. Comfortable is a pursuit of understanding and easing my life; compassionate is a pursuit of understanding and easing others’ lives.

Yes, we slept on floors. We met 4 little girls who shared a twin mattress.

Yes, we ate little. We ministered to 40 children who depended upon the ministry for breakfast and lunch.

Yes, we worked hard. We served food to people who were found jobless and homeless.

Yes, we rested quickly. We slept soundly in a building in the midst of a community who has seen much violence.

The trip was and should never have been about our comfort. It was about showing compassion.

I’m not convinced being comfortable and being compassionate can work together. Compassion involvses sacrifice. In order to show compassion, we need to give up something – time, money, energy, status. This sacrifice decreases our comfortability while increasing our compassion toward others. It’s turning our comfort into something that comforts others.

And we are uniquely able to do this as followers of Jesus because we have been given so much.

Jesus gave up his status to live compassionately among us.

Jesus gave up his home to find no where to lay His head.

Jesus gave up his food to minister to those who were hungry physically and spiritually.

And I have yet to find a verse that said, “And Jesus was comfortable.”

He gave up comfort to show us compassion. We received comfort from His compassionate life, and we have more than enough to turn that comfort into compassion for others.

In Matthew 14, Jesus learns about the death of His cousin John the Baptist. As he withdraws to mourn, the crowd follows. He had every right to create a boundary. No one would have faulted His need to be alone. But He gave up His needs and comforts.

When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Jesus traded comfort for compassion.

As His followers, we are called to go and do likewise.

2 Responses to “Why Comfortable Is Not Compassionate”
  1. Tony says:

    Thank you for sharing this very important message!

  2. Thank you for this thoughtful post. We all need these reminders!

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