Going Beyond the Comfort Zone..
After years of running from God, I got to a point where I had to stop running and just be obedient to what God wanted me to do. Obedience is more often than not, paired with sacrifice, but, the blessings FAR outweigh the sacrifices.
I, like many people, had taken on the label of being ‘christian’, but, I wasn’t entitled to it. I did good things, I wasn’t a bad person, I went to church, read my bible occasionally, and because of all these things I was now entitled to go to heaven (or so I thought). By going to Mozambique I was presented with the simplest but most profound revelation – Christianity is not religion, it’s not about ticking all the boxes, it’s about a relationship with God, it’s about living a lifestyle that reflects Christ in everything we do. Being a Christian goes far deeper than most people tend to realize.
A Christian is a follower of Christ; it denotes one who, from serious thought, embraces the religion of Christ, believes his promises, and makes it his chief care to shape his life by Christ’s precepts and example.
We’ve all read these promises of God in the bible;
“And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19),
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26)
How many of us live this out in our daily lives? How many believe this to the core of who we are? The answer is simple, not many!
Of the many things God taught me in Mozambique, the one thing that stands out for me most is the fact that our comfort in life increases our dependence on ourselves, and lessens our dependence on God. If I had to challenge you and ask “when was the last time you stepped out in faith, trusting solely on God?”, majority of people would have to think long and hard about it.
In the western world (and in many respects South Africa is more like the western world than Africa), we live comfortably, selfishly. We look after ourselves first, and foremost, when it comes to time, money, space, ‘stuff’, and then we offer what’s left to God and to others. We get so caught up in our careers, our material wants (not needs) that we forget what being a Christian, a Christ follower is all about –
“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. ’ (Matthew 22:37-39)
By serving the local church in Quelimane, I was able to see first hand what it means to be Christian. I got to spend time with people who live lives which are founded on the promises of God. God isn’t just ‘plan b’ to them – God is the ONLY plan, He is everything to them. What they ‘lack’ materially they make up for spiritually. They live with the bare basics in life (e.g. a minimum wage of R600 a month, clay houses which are easily washed away by heave rains), yet, they are filled with a joy, peace and love that is contagious to everyone they come into contact with. They love people without prejudice, and they give out of their nothing. Imagine having R600 a month and giving to others who don’t have, or inviting others to come round for lunch or dinner, etc (for those thinking that things are probably cheaper in Mozambique – they aren’t!).
Going beyond the comfort zone isn’t easy – it has its challenges and struggles, it requires one to do things one wouldn’t normally do, it will require one to give (time, money, space, stuff) and it will require crazy faith. But, the one thing that outweighs all of the negatives is…God!
God will reveal Himself in ways you never thought possible, He uses you because you have given Him more space and room to work in your life, and in so doing, He glorifies Himself through your life. We weren’t called to do things the way the world does things, we weren’t called to stick to the status quo, we were called to be set apart…
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)