“Comfort Zone.” I never heard this terminology anywhere except from inside it. I figure I was probably about 20 years old the first time I ever heard someone use that term. I bet you can guess where I was and the phrase in which it was used.
I was sitting in a church amid a discussion group when one good brother used the phrase, “We need to get out of our comfort zones.”
Ever hear the term used in any other sentence? Ever hear it used in a bar? An airport? A battlefield? A grocery store checkout line?
Yeah, I think the terminology is its own sealed tomb. If you are using it, you are stuck in it. Allow me to demonstrate:
I guess it was some years later, probably about a dozen, when I was visiting one day with a fellow minister who informed me that our church met in the statistical heart of our city’s high-crime neighborhood. We were the church closest to ground zero for drug related arrests, prostitution, burglaries, auto thefts and gun-shot wounds. Our church met in the heart of this kind of neighborhood. And he had gone out at midnight one night to see it first-hand.
This brother described to me how that he had witnessed a pimp beating a prostitute in a dark parking lot. He drove his car so the headlights illuminated him, startled him, and he left. The minister had scared the guy off, if only momentarily, and thus helped the lady in distress.
He also told me that one of our widow ladies from church lived in an apartment across the street from all this action. Later, when I met her too, I found out that this 88 year old lady considered her presence there to be a mission from God. All she did was be there (and pray for the place too). She really stretched her neck out for Jesus in ways they don’t print up in the brochures. And that summer the bullets from a drive-by shooting sprayed her apartment complex. One bullet entered her kitchen window and struck the wall near her refrigerator.
What’s funny to me is how my game suddenly stepped up when I found that out. I wanted to be a soldier for Christ, and I did not want to be outclassed by a little, old widow lady!!!
I don’t remember using the term “comfort zone” when I got out of it. I do remember taking the streets at night and offering a communion service to any and all we could find to join us. We took church out of its box! God unleashed! And he did not bring a gun for protection.
I recall cops and security guards chatting up the dangers with us as we took our ministry to the mean streets late at night. We heeded no warnings. We must have looked and sounded stupid by all conventional wisdom. Naïve. And we facilitated the table that God set up in the presence of our enemies (Ps 23:5), and then invited God’s enemies to join.
And they did.
But they thought we were cops – undercover!
Completely unarmed except for the love of God, the street people were AFRAID OF US! We offered only LOVE and prayer and sacrament.
Not everyone joined. It’s not like we packed them in to church after that, although I did begin using the church van to round up people shortly thereafter! No. But these two crazy white boys totally blew the minds and imaginations of those drug addicts and their children! And we stopped a murder doing that one night (more on that another time (I know I promised that before, and I mean it)).
Yeah… That is powerful. And I am addicted, in a strange sense, to the rush of it. I want to go back into that fray! I want to see the miracles of God as he preaches his Jubilee message to the poor! And despite all the good doctrine I get back in the “comfort zone,” nothing compares to the thrill of Jesus doing battle on the front lines. Have you ever seen that (Rev. 19:11-19)? Go check it out now! Then enlist!!!
I suggest, to any who read here, “get out of your comfort zone” and join Jesus at the LZ. He is coming under heavy fire! But you can eat the meal he gives us at the table prepared in the presence of his enemies. It tastes better than any meal you ever ate!