by Aaron Tiger
I love our brown recliner. It is the most comfortable place in our house.
It’s fluffy, it lays back, and when I get in that chair I am relaxed. You probably have that comfy place in your house as well. Maybe it’s a couch or your bed, but there is a place you go to be comfortable, and once you are there you don’t want to leave. But I actually have a love-hate relationship with that recliner.
Because I don’t want to leave.
There is something about being comfortable that keeps you from moving even when you know that you should move.
When I get home each evening, the first decision I make will set the tone for the rest of the evening. Will I sit in the brown recliner or will I do anything else? Because once I sit in the recliner, I realize that I treat it as a throne, and I begin to expect that the world (most particularly my family) should treat me as The King. And the home becomes my palace and the goal becomes for me to achieve the highest possible level of comfort in the next few hours.
I like to think that I’m exaggerating, and I certainly could be, but think about a time in which you have just gotten comfortable and someone asks you to get up and do something. I joke that my wife has the uncanny ability to know the precise moment that I lay down in bed and get comfortable. While most of the time I will get up to assist my wife, there is still an internal selfish offense because I have been inconvenienced.
If the goal of life is comfort, then there are some days that I am winning.
Now, maybe you know that there is more to life than comfort, but yet think about some of the messages that we receive from the culture around us. I don’t watch many commercials, but when I do I see constant messages of comfort both in the short term (all the mattress commercials), the medium term (take a great vacation), and in the long term (the retirement commercials that show very relaxed people on the beach). The message of the world seems to be that at the end of our day, our week, our year, our life, we deserve comfort. We have earned comfort. Some would say that it is the American dream.
There is part of me that really loves the end goal of comfort. As a Christian, one way I think of heaven is a place of peace, and 2 Thessalonians 2:16, 17 says, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.” So let me say this, comfort is not a bad goal, but it can never be the only one, and it should never be an individual goal.
I’m trying to teach my boys the golden rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” You’ve probably heard that, but let me spin it using comfort. “Help others to experience the same comfort that you desire for yourself.” You want a great retirement? Then we should be people of justice who help other people experience the same goal. Want to really get a good night’s sleep? Don’t just sleep on the best mattress, but also buy a bed for someone who doesn’t have a bed all to themselves.
When I go home tonight, I’ll have a choice. Will I sit in that recliner that makes me feel good? Will I relax and look to others to serve me? Or will I choose to be uncomfortable so that others will have the possibility of receiving comfort? Will that brown recliner be comfort for me or will it be a symbol that others need that comfort as well?
Aaron Tiger is a minister at First United Methodist Church in Tulsa, a dad, a husband, and a child of God. He is the Editor in Chief of The918.org. When he does sit in the brown recliner, he loves to watch the Cubs, the 49ers, the OSU Cowboys, and the Thunder.