I recently wrote about stepping outside of my comfort zone (Take Me Out to the Ball Game). In his book Holy Grounds, Rev. Tim Schenck writes, “Faith demands we face and overcome fears and suspicions of things that take us out of our comfort zones.” I say amen to that!
Take the oft-quoted John 3:16. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” (KJV) This is one of the bedrocks of the Christian faith, that Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross so that my sins would be forgiven. Just about everything about this takes me out of my comfort zone.
First off, it doesn’t make sense. I like things that are neat and logical, and this just sounds crazy. Why would God do something like this? It sounds like a terribly roundabout way of doing things. Didn’t he have any better ideas? How does that work anyway? What possible connection could there be between Jesus’s death on a cross 2,000 years ago and my sins today? How do I manage to get eternal life out of the deal? The very concept makes my brain hurt!
I’m also more than a little uncomfortable with the whole business because it sounds too fantastic to be true. We are always told, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Well, that certainly fits the scenario here! Eternal life? Really? Even though I in no way deserve it? I’m naturally wary of any deal this one-sided, even if—especially if—it is entirely in my favor.
Furthermore, I didn’t ask for it. Jesus did it for me anyway. We are unaccustomed to any act of over-the-top generosity. Most of us can’t honestly fathom the idea of going to a horrible death for a stranger. How much less would we be willing to die for a stranger who won’t even be born for another two millennia. I’m uncomfortable with that level of self-sacrifice. If there was ever a gift capable of inducing overwhelming guilt, here it is!
Faith is not only accepting the gift and accepting that it happened as told in the Bible, but accepting that it really is as wonderful as it sounds. “Faith demands we face and overcome fears and suspicions of things that take us out of our comfort zones.” John 3:16 takes me way out of my comfort zone. I am suspicious of it because it defies logic. I goes beyond anything I have come to expect in the world. I fear that I am unworthy of such love, and that I might lose it.
Then there is this to consider: Elsewhere in the Bible we read, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required.” (Luke 12:48, KJV). I would say everlasting life qualifies as “much.” Faith demands that I overcome my fear of the much that may be required of me. I must leave my comfort zone.