You can’t follow Jesus if……10: You insist on being comfortable

This might be the last of my 10 commandments for would- be followers of Jesus, and it’s certainly got plenty of evidence to back it. Jesus was scathing about those who wanted to support him but could not leave their comforts behind, even if these included attendance at family funerals. “Let the dead bury the dead” he said, scandalously, reserving particular scorn for people who tried out discipleship but gave up, likening them to crofters who only managed to plough half a field.

In fact he was up front with his warnings, asking people to pick up their crosses and follow him.  The Pythons parodied this utterance memorably in the Life of Brian. But he was  was not suggesting mass crucifixion, or even as some believers think, that we all have our crosses to bear, but rather that his followers might have to oppose the Imperial power to the peril of their lives. Jewish jihadis made this choice, but Jesus was asking it from peaceable people.

“Foxes have holes, the birds of the air their nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” He couldn’t have made it plainer that he was not promising comfort.

There is a radical edge to Jesus’ ministry: in the name of God’s kingdom he was opposed to the way of the world, not out of asceticism – he liked eating and drinking- but out of passionate opposition to its injustice and hypocrisy. He did not teach people to bear with the world’s wrongs, but to fight them with truth and lovingkindness.

It’s helpful to compare Jesus to his great disciple, St Francis, who was similarly brusque to any brother or sister who looked for a comfortable life. But Francis was an ascetic; he loved poverty and the spirit; hated riches and the body. There is something almost unhealthy and pathological, in Francis’ dislike of comfort. Jesus, however, loved people, companionship, and the welcoming table, but accepted  that his mission would mean deprivation of these good things.

A liking for comfort is not contrary to the example of Jesus; thinking you are entitled to it, is.


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