Comfort is a Slow Death
Cairn’s boulder-billboard caught my eye today. It was decked out in some metallic silver spray paint, and had some black script scrawled across it. I mulled over the mantra tattooed on the boulder’s face, “Comfort is a slow death,” and wondered. At first viewing, I thought that perhaps the rock dared to refer to our recent election. No, that’s not right. Then it hit me.
It seems as though the “beware of complacency” spiel is one of the most popular topics chosen for Sunday sermons. Now, do not misunderstand the severe importance of steering clear of complacency. Maintaining complacency, being “okay” with the stagnant condition of relationships, efforts, and disciplines, can be a hazardous and damaging practice. Pastors and teachers tend to warn listeners against the symptoms of a “slow fade,” the acceptance of things as they are. This warning speaks most loudly in one’s spiritual life; do not let your attitude toward your prayer life, relationships with others, discipline in reading God’s word, become complacent. One of these teachers, most notably, was Jesus himself. He warned his listeners, from 2,000 years ago up until today, to not fall asleep, to not be lulled into a dull acceptance of “things as they are.”
With all of this to say, how could comfort be a slow death? How can comfort suffocate someone? Nothing is wrong with being comfortable; in fact, comfort paints the picture (for me) of being snuggled in a warm blanket, rain pattering the windows, lights a warm glow, and candle vapors wafting through the air. How, in the world, could that promote a slow death?
Well, comfort, like anything, is wonderful in moderation. Suppose I remained snuggled in that warm blanket everyday. Suppose I sat nestled in my couch, all day every day, by myself, no matter if it was raining, no matter if I ran out of candles. Would perhaps my social life die? Or, perhaps, my work life? Other responsibilities? Definitely any pets I had. It seems that in this situation, comfort promoted a slow death.
This contentment causes slow deaths to arise in relationships: it’s easier to ignore bigger problems, and more pleasing to avoid friction. Slow deaths arise in friendships: it’s easier to sweep jealousies under the rug, and less painful to force a smile. Slow deaths arise in honesty: it’s easier to copy information from a friend, and faster to turn in the paper when it’s due rather than ask for an extension. Slow deaths arise in your heavenly relationship: it’s easier to check off a quick verse from your list, and more comfortable to pray in bed, though you may fall asleep.
Comfort is a slow death when one accepts the way things are, the way things have become. As followers of Christ, we are meant to constantly seek growth in all areas of life, as our spiritual act of worship, as our way to please God. Comfort, quite honestly, is the opposite of growth. Growth can be painful, yet results in significant, meaningful change. Remaining in one place, on the other hand, does not challenge, inspire, or dare. Ease creates environments for stagnancy. Remaining snuggled on the couch in a cozy blanket is a perfect situation for rest and rejuvenation on a Sunday afternoon; snuggling into the couch every day during the week is not a method for growth.
“Comfort is a slow death.” Even our rock knows that.