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Comfort Culture

Updated: Mar 3


JAN 27, 2024


Everyday Faith

One of my very favorite things to do when my wife and I were raising kids was to backpack in remote places where the beauty of God’s creation would abound, but where there was also going to be a physical and mental challenge for all of us to navigate.

As much as I loved being in nature and wanted my kids to immerse themselves in God’s handiwork, I also understood that my kids needed to understand that they could live a much simpler and more self-reliant lifestyle than what we normally did.

So, to backpack, we traded the comfort of our house for a nylon tent. We traded cooking in a kitchen with a stove for a burner barely able to hold a pan. We traded our clean clothes for ones that would get worn for days on end, absorbing our sweat. We traded the ease of traveling in a car for traveling on our feet and legs. We traded the delicacies of dinner with flavorful spices for prepackaged dry foods that came in a pouch. We traded a leisure walk down the road for a rooty, rocky, craggy trail carrying a backpack that was at least a quarter of our body weight. And we traded out electricity for the campfire with the moon and stars when it got dark.

Some would find that a difficult undertaking, perhaps hard.

There’s no denying that we all like our comforts, but it seems to me that our desire for a comfortable life has become an obsession.

I was recently reading a book from a counselor who was studying the impacts that COVID-19 had on us after the fact. In his study, he noted the number of times that people used some semblance of the phrase, “I just want life to be good again.”

In drilling down into that phrase, people kept listing comforts they missed as to why their life wasn’t good. Get the connection?

A good life is comfortable, easy, and fun.

We live in a time when we readily accept terms like “first world problems” or “adulting.” We recognize that our lives are easy, historically speaking, and, apparently, it’s a burden to do the things an adult has to do. Becoming a mature person becomes the equivalent of being hard or difficult?

The problem with all that is that “comfort culture” has invaded the walls of the church.

As a believer, where do we find meaning and purpose in our lives? Are we chasing the next raise, vacation, trip, or accolade to prove that we’ve arrived?

As a believer, we’ve been called to share the gospel with anyone and everyone around this ole world of ours. The promises that we often refer to from the Bible certainly should reassure us in our times of doubt or struggles in life, but I don’t ever remember those promises guaranteeing us a life of luxury or comfort.

As a matter of fact, the Bible is full of examples of people who lived a life of discomfort and sacrifice for the cause of sharing the gospel. The mindset they carried with them was that the gospel message was worth more than any comfort they could ever have been provided.

Paul was arrested and thrown in jail for his faith, yet he shares while he’s in jail about how he has learned to be content in good times and bad. And, as a matter of fact, he continued to share his faith with those around him while he was in prison and completely uncomfortable.

Now, I don’t know anyone who actually desires an uncomfortable life, but I think we could take a lesson from our Christian forefathers who understood the value of their faith and do some reprioritizing about how we view our role in this world.

As Christians, we have to guard ourselves from becoming too comfortable and getting lulled into a state of apathy.

What the world needs to see and hear from us is the amazing, life-giving transformation of what Christ did for each and every one of us. The striking difference between who we were and who we are should show those around us the power of the resurrection — taking a dead life and turning it into one full of meaning and purpose.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with comfort and having fun.

It simply should not be the end goal for us as believers.

The question we really need to think through though is how we view the world around us. Is it simply a playground to recreate ourselves? And again … “Do we simply see the world as a playground to recreate ourselves?”

How do you think God, the designer of this planet, would answer that?

If we fall into the trap of “comfort culture,” we won’t even recognize the struggles and hurting world that surround us, let alone dedicate any time to helping it.

As my kids learned on our backpacking trips, life is full of trade-offs. You can’t have both worlds simultaneously. You have to choose one. Those craggy, rocky, rooty trails held a much greater lesson in them than my words could ever have expressed.

Meeting God in the middle of “hard” and “uncomfortable” wasn’t something to avoid or fear. It was an opportunity to learn how to see God’s handiwork in the midst of a trail littered with challenges along the way.

And, although the trails we traversed were narrow, the fact that it even existed should be an encouragement to us that others have gone before us, following the same route, and made the conscious choice to follow it.

“… but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope (Romans 5:3-4 {NIV}).”

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