Steven Furtick — Dysfunctional Comfort
Let's pick up right there at Mark 1:14, with this second installment of, "Savage Jesus". "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come," He said. 'Kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!' As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon..". — that's the guy who got his name changed to Peter, because God doesn't call you what other people call you. He doesn't call you what you call yourself. You call yourself a failure, He calls you a masterpiece of grace. A canvas, waiting to be painted on.
So that's who Simon is, and we believe that Peter gave Mark the recollection for this gospel account. And Mark was writing down a lot of the memories of Peter. That's what scholars tell me, anyway. I wasn't there. Let's continue. "He saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 'Come, follow Me," Jesus said, 'And I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed Him. When He'd gone a little farther, He saw James sons of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets".
Getting ready to go do what they did. "Without delay..". which is Mark's favorite phrase in scripture. It's translated different ways, but it's immediately, or suddenly. He writes that way, it's breathless, the account that he gives of the life of Christ, because knowing that He has no time to waste in getting to the cross, He can't really take a lot of time with trivial details. And so, He's just giving us not the whole exchange that happened. I don't think Jesus just walked by and said, "Come, follow Me. Become fishers of men". And they went with Him. I think there was a conversation, but we are given the essence of the conversation, so that we can know that Jesus did not come to give us cute cliches and Hallmark cards, but instructions and commands that are best for our life, to lead us in the way everlasting.
"And without delay He called them..". and He did not wait for them to understand their calling, before He gave it to them. Isn't that interesting? He did not wait for them to go through confirmation classes. He did not give them ministerial training. He simply gave them a calling. "And they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed Him". So there's a commonality. I'm gonna read more than that, but I'll break it up. The commonality is that in both of these cases, you have Andrew and Simon, who became Peter. You've got John and James, and watch what they had to do to come into their calling.
Mark 1:18 says: "And once they left their nets..". and then again in Mark 1:20: "Without delay, they left their father..". — so the first pattern I see emerging here about following Christ, to really follow Christ, is that coming into my calling means coming out of my comfort zone. And I wanna preach this point fully, but I don't wanna take long on it, because it's not my main point. It is the context of Christianity, though, that Christ did not come to make us comfortable. I think in order to understand your relationship with someone, you have to understand the function, and I wanna speak to you for a few moments today on dysfunctional comfort. That's my topic, dysfunctional comfort. And when you don't understand the function of something, you are more than likely to get hurt, or break it, trying to engage it.
So that's why I had to explain to my boys that the treadmill in our house is not a toy, it's a coat rack. When I saw them taking their little sister, Abbey, and they were putting her on the treadmill at speed 8.5, and putting her on the treadmill, and they told me they were playing check-out at Target. This is not the function of the treadmill, and your sister is worth more than 15 cents. That's what they were telling her. That's why she was crying. "You only rang up for 15 cents. Sorry, Abbey. You're not that expensive". I had to shut it down. Why? That's not what the treadmill is for.
But when you don't know what something is for, you won't know how to use it. You won't understand how to relate to people if you do not understand the nature of a relationship. Most of the dysfunction in my relationships came because I violated the nature of the relationship. I either tried to get something from someone that they could not give me, that they were not designed to deposit in my life, or I tried to give to somebody something that they didn't ask for, or didn't want to receive from me. But without understanding the nature of a relationship, you will have relational frustration, and dysfunction, because you don't understand what that person was in your life for. It's kind of weird how some of the people that you try to help the most, or that try to help you the most, there ends up being more hurt in those relationships than any other relationship.
When my dad first got really sick, and we did not know it was ALS yet, but we knew that he needed some help, I started trying to pay for everything. And I started trying to care of everything. But in the process of trying to take of his physical needs, I stopped meeting the emotional need that he had to be a dad to me. And so, when I started acting like I was the dad, it created a dysfunction in our relationship that almost broke it apart. And a lot of that was my fault, because I was ignorant to the fact that when you try to give somebody something, in a relationship, that is not the primary need they have of you, it will be a good intention with a bad result.
How many know what I'm talking about on some level? Yeah, on some level? Try to make your kids your best friends. They're not. They suck. Treat 'em like it. Nah, I love my kids. I'm just saying, sometimes, it's gonna be — sometimes, it's gonna have to be a dad moment, and just not a buddy moment, and I don't have any examples of that, 'cause in our home, it's perfect, and we pray a lot. But here's what I wanted to say about that. I think a lot of the problems in our relationship with Christ are because we do not understand His primary function in our lives.
I think a lot of us associate Christ primarily with comfort. We come to church for comfort. And people will leave churches sometimes because they'll say, "I was uncomfortable". People left Jesus one time because He fed them food, comfort food. They loved it. Then, He turned around and said something very uncomfortable. "Eat My flesh, and drink My blood". "We're out of here". That made me kind of uncomfortable, that cannibalism part of His sermon. Food was good, but it's just not worth all that. It made them uncomfortable. Okay. Now, the Holy Spirit, can I teach a little theology class? I paid, like, $80.000 to go to school and learn this stuff. I gotta share it sometime.
When the Holy Spirit was coming, Jesus said, "I'm gonna send you a Comforter". So the Holy Spirit not only convicts, He comforts. The primary role of the Holy Spirit is comfort. Okay. The primary role of Jesus, when He was on the earth, was not comfort, it was confrontation. I know you don't like that. I know you want Jesus to speak to you in aphorisms that cause you to feel better about yourself each day. But the primary function of Jesus, I'll show it to you here in the scripture in a moment, was not to comfort the people, but to confront the systems that kept the people in bondage, and in captivity. It's important that we understand this, because if we misunderstand the reason that Christ came, we will be confused about how we come to Him. And we will begin to associate the presence of God in our lives with comfort, and we will associate the devil with confrontation and conflict. But sometimes, it is the devil who is giving you comfort, and it is God who is putting you in conflict.
What if I just dropped the mic, walked off the stage right there, and we thought about it for 45 minutes? Because you have been blaming the devil for God's handiwork. And to come into your calling will require you to come out of your comfort zone. Peter had to leave his nets. James had to leave poor Zebedee in the boat. "See ya, Z. I gotta go. I'm gonna fish for men". Notice, I'm gonna be doing the same thing, fishing, but for a different purpose. Not for profit, but for people. Now, when God calls you, He doesn't always make you change your career. I'm so tired of people quitting their job and starting a coffee shop, 'cause they like coffee. You need to be good at business. If you like coffee, you can go to Starbucks. You need to be good at marketing to start a coffee shop. Calling is not about address, and it's not about vocation. Calling is about vision. It is about the level at which you see the gift that God has placed in your life.
So Jesus said, "I see a gift in you to fish. You have tenacity, you have a certain set of skills, but I am going to apply your aptitude to a higher avocation". In other words, come follow Me, and I'm going to enlarge your capacity. I'm going to bring you into calling, but in order for you to find your calling, you've got to forsake your comfort. And we typically want both, simultaneously. Abs and no planks. A divine calling and no discomfort, but coming into your calling means coming out of your comfort zone. No certainty, no contract. Follow Me, and I will show you as you go.
That sounds almost exactly like Abraham. Go to the land I will show you. That's an uncomfortable proposition, but if I'm gonna bless you so you can be a blessing, you are going to have to learn to be uncomfortable. I'm not going to call you to do something that is outside of your competency. I'm gonna use what you're good at, I'm not gonna put you on The Voice if you can't sing. Please bless us by keeping it in the shower if you can't sing.
You see what I'm saying? It's not beyond your competency, but it's gonna be beyond your comfort. You're gonna feel stretched by this. And so, they didn't move. One interesting thing is they didn't move or relocate. Instead, the call of God was for them to repent. This word does not mean feel really bad about yourself. It means change your mind. To change the way you think about the reason that you're here, and to change the way that you think about what you're going through, and to change the way you think about who really is in the seat of authority in your life.
So follow Me, forsake the familiar, and walk in faith. The greatest enemy of faith is not fear, it is familiarity. Fear is an ally of faith. Fear puts you in a place where you know you need something greater than yourself, which makes connection with God possible. Fear can lead to faith, but familiarity can keep you stuck in predictable cycles that are pitiful, but because they're predictable, you will stay in them, unless something calls you out.
What was interesting to me about this introductory context is that if you'll remember, one time, Peter had been fishing all night, and he caught nothing. And Jesus said, "Throw your nets, and you'll catch a lot of fish". And they did. I thought this was that same time, because, you know, there's four different gospels. I did my research, and found out that this was the first time they were called. And so, Jesus did not call them out of their failure, or frustration. What they were doing was working, but there was a higher purpose. Now, a lot of times, it's easy for us to give all that we have to Christ when we've come to the end of ourselves. But when God calls you out of your success into something sacrificial, will you still obey? Will you come out of your comfort zone? They knew how to fish, they were good at fishing. They had a system set up by which their fishing could put food on their table, and He called them out of their comfort zone.
Now, where they went next is really critical to our understanding of the nature of God's calling on our lives. Mark 1:21 says: "They went to Capernaum..". — I've been there. I've actually been to Capernaum. And our guide, Ariyah, said that I was saying it wrong. He said, "Not Capernaum, Caper-naum". Took me seven times to say it, and — 'til he was satisfied. He said, Kfar, Kfar. Nahum, Nahum. Kfar, village. Nahum, Comforter. Like, the minor prophet, Nahum. He said, "Say it again. Kfar, Kfar. Nahum, Nahum. Kfar-nahum. Kfar-nahum". Stress on the K... — doesn't matter. What matters, what it means, what it means: "Village of the Comforter". Isn't that cool? He said, "You call it Capernaum, and you miss the whole point. It means, kfar, village, nahum, Comforter. Village of the Comforter".
They went to Capernaum. Hold that. It's really important to what I wanna say. They went to Capernaum: "And when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach". As a guest speaker. This was customary. "The people were amazed at His teaching," — "Oh, this is good. Preach, Pastor, Amen". "Because He taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law". But remember, I told you last week. The greatest proclamation of the gospel is not explanation, it. I said that in case you're not good with your words. You might preach the gospel louder than me without saying a thing, just by how you do your business, or how you treat people, or how you respond to your wife. So Jesus is proclaiming the Word of God, explaining or teaching, and they're amazed. "Oh, wow. #Amazing. #Authority. #Thisguy".
Mark 1:23: "A man in their synagogue," who's synagogue? Who's? Who's synagogue? Jesus is just a guest preacher, He's not the senior pastor. He's just getting to Capernaum. Now, He's gonna base His whole ministry out of Kfar-Nahum. He's gonna do a couple dozen miracles, 22 biblical miracles are in Kfar-Nahum. "Village of the Comforter". And so, Jesus comes and He calls the disciples. He gets His circle right. He does not call the people who make Him comfortable. He calls the people who will make Him effective. Even to say that coming into your calling means coming out of your comfort zone, you should be validated by the fact that for Jesus to save you, He had to step out of Heaven. For Jesus to fulfill His calling as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the earth, He had to lay the riches and glory of Heaven aside. And here, we stand sometimes, and we will not step away from our heated seats and luxury lives and broken beliefs long enough to get outside of our comfort zone, and step into our calling.
Well, now Jesus is in Capernaum, but He does not come just to comfort the people. He comes to confront the system that has imprisoned the people. What happens next has never happened to me in a sermon, and I pray that it doesn't. "Just then..". — I've had a lot of stuff happen while I preached. I've had people get up and walk out. I don't know if they were mad, or had a full bladder. I don't know, but I've had people get up and walk out. I've had people say weird things during my sermon, do weird things during my sermon. Never had this, and please, don't try it today. "Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out..". — "Just then a man who was in their synagogue..".
Now, listen. You don't just go to synagogue because you feel like it, every first Sunday, or on Easter and Christmas. He was a part of their synagogue. So it stands to reason, he had been there many times before. He had sat and listened to the teaching and instruction. As little as we know about him, we have reason to believe he was a regular. "A man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit..". or an unclean spirit, or maybe your version of the Bible says a demon, or the King James says a devil. It doesn't matter what you call it, it was dysfunctional. Something dysfunctional in this man stood up when Jesus spoke. Something dysfunctional in this man cried out when Jesus spoke with authority. An evil spirit cried out: "What do You want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are, the Holy One of God"! "'Be quiet," Jesus said sternly. 'Come out of him!' "
He didn't need a seance. He didn't need seven steps. Just the virtue of the power — I feel like preaching the Bible today. The power of His Word made flesh in this man, drove the dysfunction out of the man. "Come out of him..". you unclean spirit. I don't think Jesus screamed it. I don't think He had to. Real power can whisper, and get its point across. And the evil spirit shook, Jesus didn't touch the man, but he started shaking, and the man was violently convulsing on the floor. But even though the demon put up a fight, it had to come out when Jesus spoke.
I can't tell if y'all met me in church today or if I'm doing this by myself. 'Cause I think we need to speak to some things in the presence of God today that have occupied space in our spirit, and in our minds, and in our families, and in our schools, and in our generational bloodline. Somebody shout, "Come out". And the spirit came out with a shriek. The power of God is not always pretty. See, this man is shaking on the floor. We just want a nice, clean path with roses and chrysanthemums, and we walk down the aisle, and accept Jesus, and everything is all right. But some stuff in your life will not come out unless it is confronted. It has to be confronted, or it will not come out. Shout it again in the back, "Come out". Come out, and the spirit obeyed Jesus.
What I can't figure out, and this is what I've been studying this week in preparation for our time together, is why this man was able to sit in their synagogue for so long, and the evil spirit was comfortable in church. But when Jesus showed up, I said when Jesus showed up, when the Son of God showed up — I'm not preaching this one for everybody. This is just for a few of y'all. When Jesus shows up, power shows up. When Jesus shows up, demons tremble. When Jesus shows up, dysfunction has nowhere to hide, and nowhere to run, and we came to declare today to every evil spirit in our city, come out in the name of Jesus!