A Bit of Caution

In my last post I said that I’m not willing to maintain the dichotomy so prevalent in short term missions of “back home amongst all the luxurious comforts” and “out here with our tents and mud and rice.” Nothing against the tents and so on. But a large part of why I’m unwilling to accept that dichotomy is because we’re coming up to Great Lent, which is (or can be) a little pilgrimage away from those comforts that can become so oppressive for us. I suppose I would make the full assertion this: it’s a good idea to not be too dependent on unnecessary comforts, whether they be bagels and coffee, a warm house, a soft mattress, entertainment, mobility, peppy Christian music, whatever. I added a couple that don’t always make the list, because there’s a temptation to replace one form of distraction with another, and then to congratulate oneself as being especially spiritual on account of it. The new distraction may be better insomuch as it is more communal, more Christian, less individualistic, less addictive, and so on. From personal experience I’m convinced that there’s no reason to suppose the enjoyment of a very long camping trip with amiable people or a month and a half of eating rice and peanut butter while going to beautiful services is any more difficult to enjoy than, for instance, a vacation in Europe. I’m perfectly in earnest. Now, the month long camping trip in Australia can be a very good thing, and it’s right to be joyful in it, sometimes uncomfortably so, and sometimes happily so, and perhaps sometimes even sadly, homesick-ly so. But a word of caution: there’s just a little step from joyfully finding some exotic place delightful and uncomfortable and whatever else we may find it (which is proper), and being impressed with ourselves for that, listening to those who might say that we’re especially brave or reliant on God or self-sacrificing or willing to give up our own comforts, or whatever other flattery might come at us, which is unhelpful and improper.

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