Comfort? Or Love?
When I came back from two years in Africa, I sat down with an older, much wiser man for some advice. One of the things he told me right away was; “I think it’s right for a young man to lay up something for himself.” The direct contradiction to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19 jolted me, but the intention was good. He wanted me to have something to show for my endeavors, like assets, and the option for a comfortable normal American life. He wanted me to do something that was “worth it.”
Be honest. As you look at our website and read our blog, there may be a lingering, barely expressed feeling in the depths of your brain.
“Is all this really worth it?”
Your picture of us is probably right. There are times we feel frustrated and discouraged. We’re trying to push “missions” forward and most people hardly act like it exists. What’s the point? Is it worth it?
We ask ourselves that question for other reasons too. Is it worth it? This drains us financially. It takes up our time. We don’t get credit for it.
Our missionaries on the field have the same question to consider. “We’re obviously not securing our retirement plan. We work for years and years, produce hundreds of updates, and never really know if we’re motivating people at home. Out here, sometimes it’s decades and we can still count our ‘converts’ on one hand.”
Is it worth it? Why are we doing this? You probably could think of answers to this question. I also could dip into some profound spiritual platitudes. “Forgiven much, we love much…” The Spirit of God empowering and motivating… “Go into all the world.”
But I won’t. I’ll keep it practical. Let’s look at your everyday life and ask, “Is it really worth it?”
You go out of your way to do a quality job for a customer. Maybe you cook three meals a day and wash all the dishes. Some of you spend hours listening to your friends’ problems. You’re often tired and worn out from all this. What’s the point? Is it worth it?
We all do these things. Sometimes we’re not so sure why we do, but most of the time we know it’s because of care, love, and heartfelt duty. It’s to serve the people around us. It’s our life. We are glad to. What’s the point? “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Our tireless mission activism is an extension of the same principle.
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37, CSB). As Christians, this is our life calling. It’s what we want to do. Love propels us.
But missions in general looks so hard. We can’t help but wonder if there are more efficient or easier ways to express our love for God.
I’m guilty of this. I often think in terms like “what will bring me the most stability and comfort?” When I’m working or studying, I’m constantly choosing what I do based on my comforts. Naturally, comfort becomes king and dictates the way I think.
Comfort screams “No! It’s not worth it.”
Some of you would never question whether it’s worth it for a missionary to be involved in a foreign field, but you’ve probably said this cliché: “God needs people at home to support missionaries.” Is this an excuse? What if this is translated as: “Is it really worth it? I really don’t want to be held to that level of sacrifice.”
Is this you? I don’t know, but it’s me. I easily spend the most time thinking about the next comfort events, like ‘a-little-more-money’ deals, social events, vacations, etc. I don’t think much about my love toward God. Comfort blurs the way my love relationship with God would motivate me.
That’s why I look at mission life and say “too much sacrifice.” In my natural thinking I weigh it and say, “It’s not worth it.”
The epidemic of comfort addiction is obvious in our thoughts. What usually controls the way you think? Comfort? Or loving God?
Love says “I love the One who loves me most. Serving with Him is worth it.”
If you feel like being a missionary would bring a boatload of sacrifice, something is wrong. When we really love loving God, He revolutionizes our thinking. Our value system places God at the top. This is clearly shown by our lives. Whether we are at home or overseas, we will be marked by “insane” dedication to God’s purposes.
Let’s stop asking, “Is it really worth it?” I’m praying to know God so intensely that the value of things done in love to Him will permeate my thinking. I pray the same for you.
When we’re loving God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, of course it’s worth it.
Yes, it’s worth it. Jesus deemed it so; may we follow in His footsteps whether that means living in a out-back village or leaving the majority of natural beauty to carry on the work in inner-cities, at “home” or abroad.