The Danger of the Comfort Zone
Religious routines are good, but they can replace a growing relationship with Christ without people even being aware of it, warns Bible teacher R.T. Kendall in a lesson drawn from Jesus' earthly childhood.
Christians can think they are walking with Christ when He is absent—just as Mary and Joseph believed Jesus was with him when they traveled home from Jerusalem, one time, according to the gospel of Luke, even though he was not in their party.
The routine of the journey they had made on many occasions "made it easy to move on without Him," Kendall observes. "Routine of habit, even a good habit, often becomes a comfort zone. We all have comfort zones—and there is nothing wrong with them. But there is an inherent danger with them—familiarity with the way we've always done things can be misinterpreted as evidence of the special presence of God."
He writes of Christians' need to learn not only to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, but to be aware of the Holy Spirit's own sensitivity and how the work of the Spirit can be quenched.
Mary and Joseph's failure to realize that Jesus had stayed behind in Jerusalem to talk with the elder at the Temple "illustrates the way in which the sovereign Holy Spirit may test our sensitivity by not moving with us when we choose to carry on with our plans," Kendall comments.
It's easy to get ahead of God, Kendall admits. "We have all done it. But when we do so, we miss what God is doing elsewhere while we are, as it were, on our way to Galilee. We can avoid such a thing happening by learning to adjust to the [Holy Spirit]."
Kendall writes about how Christians need to learn to discern both God's presence and His absence, and address issues such as bitterness, unforgiveness and judgmentalism that can grieve the Holy Spirit. Feelings of anxiety, irritability and confusion or muddled thinking can be "sobering proofs" of God's absence, he says.
"One reason God hides His face is because He wants us to seek Him—to go looking for Him. By seeing what our reaction is when He hides His face, He can test our earnestness to seek Him," Kendall writes.
R. T. Kendall is the author of more than 30 books and an internationally known preacher and teacher. He was pastor of Westminster Chapel in London for 25 years until his retirement in early 2002. While upholding the church's tradition of expository preaching, he also led the congregation into a fresh openness to the Holy Spirit.
Adapted from the Charisma News Service article http://www.charismanews.com/online/articledisplay.pl?ArticleID=6564
Used with permission.