As morning mist hovered over the quiet pond outside their hut in South America, five men began to plan. They were in their twenties, slim and fit from working outside in the tropical heat.
The year? 1955.
Maps, pencils, and notebooks covered the rickety dining table in front of them as they went back and forth, discussing how to approach their target territory in the overgrown jungle. On their scouting trips, a canopy of treetops had kept the jungle floor hidden, revealing little about what, or who, was beneath.
As far as they knew, no one had attempted this before them. They were in uncharted territory. One thing though was certain: this mission was dangerous. Very dangerous.
If you’re like me, you like being comfortable. Safe. Warm on a cold night. In my head I know I need to push myself and get outside of my comfort zone (“Do things that scare you,” they say.), but when push comes to shove, it’s just so . . . uncomfortable!
Plus, it can be . . . dangerous! Scary. Right?! Right.
Enter my friend Jim. (I’ve actually never met Jim Elliot, but I tell myself that if we’d met at college in the 1950s we would have hit it off.)
Jim knew something about life that I still have a hard time grasping: Staying with Jesus is better than staying in our comfort zone. This is something that you and I should probably attempt to get into our heads. Jesus is going to ask us to get out of our comfort zones. I know this because he calls me out of my safe space daily.
Let’s rewind a couple of thousand years. There was an important man, a celebrity type, named Saul. He was a Jew, but also a citizen of Rome. He belonged to a prestigious religious organization and was actively seeking Christians to throw into prison for spreading what he thought was a false religion.
Then, Saul became a Christian! (You can read about what happened in Acts 9.) He changed his name to Paul and began teaching, traveling, and making disciples in the name of Jesus!
Paul became his former self’s worst nightmare. He followed the call of Jesus, even though it would lead to shipwrecks, torture, and eventually his death. Paul knew that staying with Jesus, even though it meant incredible discomfort, was so much better than staying comfortable.
Staying comfortable is nice. For a while. But staying comfortable doesn’t lead to lasting change.
Think about it. Has there ever been someone who has influenced the world, your community, or your life because they stayed nice and cozy in their own comfort zone?
If you’re a Jesus-follower, you’re not called to be comfortable. I’m not called to be comfortable.
Hanging on a cross with nails through your hands and feet is not comfortable. Excruciating is the word that comes to mind. When Jesus asked God to “let the cup pass from me” (Matt. 26:39) and sweating blood (Luke 22:44), He wasn’t in His comfort zone. But He knew what He was called to do for you and for me. He gave up His life so that we could gain a life with Him.
You and I are called to give up our lives for Jesus (Matt. 16:24). To sacrifice what we want for what He knows is best. To make disciples and to share the gospel (Matt. 28:16–20). To love those who are difficult to love (1 John 4:7). To get out of our comfort zone.
Remember Jim? He and his friends who stood in the hut that day had no idea that a year later, the very people they were trying to reach with the gospel would murder them. Getting outside their comfort zone cost them their lives here on earth. But Jim had said that “he is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Those five men knew that following Jesus was better than anything else, even life itself.
Will you follow where Jesus leads, even when it means getting outside of your comfort zone?
What does getting “outside” of your comfort zone look like for you? Is it loving a difficult person at school? Going on a mission trip? Calling the friend you haven’t talked to in years?
How is Jesus calling you to step outside of your comfort zone to live for His glory?