From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
- John 6:66
”When God, by His Spirit through His Word, gives you a clear vision of His will, you must ‘walk in the light’ of that vision (1 John 1:7). Even though your mind and soul may be thrilled by it, if you don’t ‘walk in the light’ of it you will sink to a level of bondage never envisioned by our Lord. Mentally disobeying the ‘heavenly vision’ (Acts 26:19) will make you a slave to ideas and views that are completely foreign to Jesus Christ. Don’t look at someone else and say, ‘Well, if he can have those views and prosper, why can’t I?’ You have to ‘walk in the light’ of the vision that has been given to you. Don’t compare yourself with others or judge them— that is between God and them. When you find that one of your favorite and strongly held views clashes with the ‘heavenly vision,’ do not begin to debate it. If you do, a sense of property and personal right will emerge in you— things on which Jesus placed no value. He was against these things as being the root of everything foreign to Himself— ‘…for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses’ (Luke 12:15). If we don’t see and understand this, it is because we are ignoring the underlying principles of our Lord’s teaching.
“Our tendency is to lie back and bask in the memory of the wonderful experience we had when God revealed His will to us. But if a New Testament standard is revealed to us by the light of God, and we don’t try to measure up, or even feel inclined to do so, then we begin to backslide. It means your conscience does not respond to the truth. You can never be the same after the unveiling of a truth. That moment marks you as one who either continues on with even more devotion as a disciple of Jesus Christ, or as one who turns to go back as a deserter.”
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (devotion for December 29)
Maybe no one knew, but my comfy chair, a recliner, has been the backdrop for many of my photos over the years, like the one used here.
Let’s get the “comfy chair” reference out of the way. In Monty Python, they had a few appearances of the Spanish Inquisition. You never knew when they were coming because “No one expects the Spanish Inquisition.” <dramatic music, duhn, duhn, duhn!!!> This highly edited version misses the counts on which the old woman has been accused. There were three counts, but as Michael Palin recites the counts, there are four. So, he starts over, but suddenly there are five … “Oh, blast! We’ll have to go out and come in again!” I have always liked that part, but this version focuses mostly on the comfy chair torture.
But the comfy chair is not that torturous, is it?
Lately, I will have a small bit of lunch and I will sit in the recliner to either watch a little American football or catch the weather forecast. The next thing I know, it is an hour later. I have no idea who is winning the ball game, or I have no idea if it will rain or snow any time within the next week.
The comfy chair is not God’s method of kicking us in the backside to say that work is to be done. The comfy chair is Satan’s way of saying that tomorrow or the next day or next year is good enough.
The comfy chair has its uses. The comfy chair can provide a space for rest when rest is needed. We are not in heaven, just yet. Our bodies cannot continue to run without an occasional rest, but when rest comes, it is so tempting to stay there.
The comfy chair thanks its lucky stars that it is not a couch in Morgantown, West Virginia, where if the local college team (West Virginia) wins, they move the couch into the street and set fire to it, or if they lose, they do the same thing in protest. No, the comfy chair is not a couch, thankfully.
And if the comfy chair is in a niche in the room where the lighting is poor, can sleep be far away?
No, let us seek the light and the Light. Let us open our Bibles. Let us pray. Let us get out of our comfy chair and seek those who need our help.
As I was putting this together, I got a call on the cellphone – a miracle that it was not a spam call or my wife. (I often wonder why I have a cellphone!) It was from a Sunday school classmate that has not been in Sunday school for a few of years. He is a shut in, in poor health. He is on oxygen, and I could hear the gasps for air, but he wanted to thank me for the devotions that I write at the end of our church’s prayer list (the confidential one that only goes to the prayer warriors, of which he is one). He wanted me to know that he enjoys them, and he misses our Abbott and Costello routines in Sunday school. (To explain: When we both were attendees in class rather than teaching it (both having done so), one of us would raise a point that almost fit the lesson’s topic and the other would deliver the punchline. We worked well together, naturally, not having worked out the humor ahead of time.) The call brought a warm feeling all over me and I had to stop writing and tell my wife about it. We hugged and she wept.
The thing is that I had not heard his voice in over two years. He was probably calling from his comfy chair.
But the phone call blessed me more than anything that I had experienced in … a couple of days.
Sorry, but a couple of days before, I got a package on the front porch. It was from another Sunday school class member who, with her retiring husband, moved south eight years ago to live near her daughter and the possibility of grandchildren (now two of them). Her neighbor had just published an historical novel, set in and around the time when Jesus was betrayed. A copy of the book was in the package along with well-wishes and thanks for being her Sunday school teachers (my wife and I at that time). Did she wrap the book in holiday wrapping paper and box it from her comfy chair?
Do Sunday school teachers need people to remember? No, but it is a blessing when they do. It let’s you know that all those hours, sitting in your comfy chair, studying, cross-referencing, digging into Scripture, was noticed by someone, a difference was made.
The comfy chair is a temptation, but the comfy chair is not a death sentence. Rev. Chambers asked if we will stay in the Light and continue to serve God? Or will we drift away, as a defector from God’s Army? Is the comfy chair calling us to rest so that we can do those things for God’s glory that will bring Joy and Cheer to someone who is tired and feeling low? Or will the comfy chair make us complacent, unwilling to do anything for God’s glory?
The doing does not save us. Rev. Chambers starts with that time when God enters our heart. We cannot lose that, but the doing springs forth from that Love that God places in our hearts – from that fountain of living water that Jesus mentions to the Samaritan woman at the well. Is that old “experience” with God a life-giving experience? Is there a flow of living water and Love bursting from that fountain within us? If not, please, spring forth from the comfy chair and go to your knees and accept Jesus into your heart.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.