Part 1 - Growth in Discomfort
PART 1 - GROWTH IN DISCOMFORT
The book of James gives us an uncomfortable image of church life: and it challenges us to consider just who is welcome in our church and in our lives.
COMFORT THE AFFLICTED AND AFFLICT THE COMFORTABLE.
• This phrase was penned by Finley Peter Dunne over a hundred years ago. He was writing about the role of newspapers and journalism—but the parallel to the Gospel is clear.
• Jesus came to disrupt.
• “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” - Mark 2:17 (WEB)
THE HISTORICAL JESUS MOVEMENT WAS UNCOMFORTABLE.
• Anytime time we have seen God move in the past, people have always been required to step out of their comfort zone. This was especially true with the Jesus Movement.
• What makes church comfortable for us? Routine, familiarity, songs we know, people we recognize, a schedule, and rhythm. Especially for those of us raised in the church.
• It’s easy to preach open doors —all are welcome— and it can be hard to live it.
WHAT DO WE DO WITH OUR DISCOMFORT?
James 2:1-9 (WEB)
My brothers, don’t hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ of glory with partiality. For if a man with a gold ring, in fine clothing, comes into your synagogue, and a poor man in filthy clothing also comes in, and you pay special attention to him who wears the fine clothing and say, “Sit here in a good place;” and you tell the poor man, “Stand there,” or “Sit by my footstool” haven’t you shown partiality among yourselves, and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers. Didn’t God choose those who are poor in this world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the Kingdom which he promised to those who love him?
But you have dishonored the poor man. Don’t the rich oppress you, and personally drag you before the courts? Don’t they blaspheme the honorable name by which you are called? However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you do well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, being convicted by the law as transgressors.
• Let’s break down this first-century scene. What do we see?
• What would be the contemporary parallel? Imagine someone coming into our church and their presence being shocking…how do we treat them? Is anyone welcome in our church? Do I treat people the same? What makes me uncomfortable?
GROWTH REQUIRES DISCOMFORT
• We cannot grow when we are comfortable and complacent.
• We grow when we face our fears and our failures. We grow when we step out in faith and follow the lead of God.