When I was in college, I had very little spending money to go around, so I learned early on to be frugal. I remember looking through the cereal boxes for the cheapest one and landing on Kashi (back then it was just one type of cereal, not all the yummy great stuff they have today). This saved my morning meal and then I had generic shampoos and soaps and definitely nothing fancy or special (and by that I mean, popcorn or new mascara). It really didn't matter to me at the time though because I was too busy enjoying school and friends to worry about material things.
After marriage, I began to feel a little differently though. I was working full time, making enough money to enjoy a cappuccino daily in the morning and a hairstylist in an actual salon. Pretty soon, those things that had once seemed extravagant to me now seemed like necessities and just a part of my every day life. I had denied myself for a while, so it was time to make up for it with plenty of pampering.
Coffee, scones, new shoes, designer makeup, a gym membership... In a short period of time, I had bought into the world's thinking. "I deserve this," preceded small indulgences. Or, more likely, I never thought twice about my rationale for purchasing things because I just assumed there was nothing wrong with making myself comfortable.
Comfortable - that's all we really ask for these days, isn't it? I want comfortable shoes, a comfy chair at work, a comfortable environment at the corner restaurant and I want to feel comfortable in my relationships too. Being uncomfortable is just so, well, uncomfortable!
I seek out comfort in every avenue of my life: work, home, around town, and even church. We want to go to church and hear words to calm our hearts and encourage us, but don't push us past our comfort zones. Shouldn't church be a comfortable place? Of course, we want everyone to feel accepted and welcomed at church, but is our goal the comfort of the congregation?
When I read some of Jesus' words, I start to get really uncomfortable.
Deny yourself. Take up your cross and follow me.
Ahem, well Lord, I want to come to church and hear your voice, but are you sure that's what you want to say to me? What about something a little more cheery - you know, like Rejoice in the Lord always? I'm not so sure I like being challenged like this, being asked to obey, to risk, to surrender, to.....
get uncomfortable for Jesus.
And so, some of those things that I just got in the habit of expecting, some of that attitude of pampering myself, some of that entitlement is going to the cross today. And as I see my sinful self dying, I realize that I'd much rather be uncomfortable with Jesus by my side than back in my cushy lifestyle wrapped up in myself.