Moving from comfort to the risky service of God

Moving from comfort to the risky service of God

We read about the call of Elisha the prophet in 1 Kings 19. Elisha is a man who is busy doing what most people of his culture did: farming. Specifically, he was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen when Elijah came along and appointed him as an apprentice. That’s a lot of oxen in a society where animals were very expensive; it is a sign that Elisha was rather prosperous.

If Elijah had never turned up, Elisha’s life would probably have carried on in a predictable way. He would have farmed, having good years and bad years, but generally living a comfortable life. He could faithfully honour his parents and marry someone in good time.

Yet the call of Elijah changed everything. He not only gave up on farming; he sacrificed the oxen and held a large party with the locals. He said goodbye to his parents. He had arranged things so he could not return to his comfortable life. This was no apprenticeship where he could simply give up if things went badly.

It is important that we understand the political situation of the time. Elijah was being actively hunted by Jezebel. Anyone who was faithful to the true God was at risk. And even Elijah had reached a point where he felt the hopelessness of the situation. Yet Elisha agreed to come and join with Elijah. He couldn’t know what the future held, but it would certainly involve risk, hard living, and not a lot of comfort.

In fact, although Elisha is appointed as Elijah’s successor in v16, it would be some time before Elijah stood down for Elisha to take over. There would be a period of apprenticeship. It would not be glamorous work. It would involve getting water and making fires, obtaining food, doing all the practical things that needed doing. To move from a successful farmer to a personal servant and apprentice would take humility. But there was such a great need for prophets. There were few faithful people in Israel. The word of God was needed more than ever. So he humbled himself and devoted himself to God’s service.

Many Christians are far too comfortable in life. We feel that we can have it all, serving both God and money. We don’t want to stand out too much in our workplaces or families because it would cause issues for us. We like the comfortable, predictable life we enjoy a lot of the time.

Sure, we are no longer called to be prophets like Elisha was. But we are called to active service of God, to take up our crosses and follow Jesus. This will mean being intentionally less comfortable as we give money away to kingdom work. It will mean sometimes being hated for the sake of Jesus. It might mean we have less free time and selfish activities than our friends for we are actively involved in the local church. It might mean we use our valuable emotional energy to listen to and support other Christians in need.

Don’t get too comfortable. The world needs Christians to be salt and light, to make an impact, to get out of our comfort zone. We don’t know what the future holds. What we do know is that if we know who our Lord is, we cannot help but take risks, to live a life devoted to Jesus, not just a life that compares well with those around us.