When the people of a society don’t have strong faith, they manufacture a false god to replace the one they have forsaken, unaware that they’ve created a new idol. This false god will be so baked into the culture that individuals worship it without conscious thought. In the United States, that false god is comfort. Whether an American is an atheist or a Christian, or somewhere in between, nearly all have put their desire for comfort—and the fear of losing it—above that of God.
Americans have no remembrance of war coming to her shores. They haven’t seen first-hand the two World Wars and the communist revolutions. There is no one alive to tell them how their lands were invaded, their women raped, their houses burned. Only American soldiers abroad have had to bear the brunt of human violence and suffering, while those back at home can sip on coffee, eat cheeseburgers, and drive big cars. No tribulation except the very recent coronavirus lockdowns and still developing riots have introduced to the American psyche the idea that life is not automatically one of high comfort.
Look around and you’ll notice that everything about the way you live was designed to maximize your personal comfort, and as Silicon Valley has amassed more power over our lives, they’ve attacked every little inconvenience for annihilation, before you even thought of them as inconveniences. When life enters such a state of ease, you can then do what you really “love,” which in practical terms is ordering junk food from your phone and masturbating to an unlimited selection of pornography.
Not everyone worships at the altar of comfort. The Slavic peoples of Russia and Ukraine, for example, have seen darker recesses of humanity. Alongside their Orthodox faith, they have come to see suffering as the same as the early Christians: a cross to bear. And many eagerly bear it. If things in life go a little too smooth for a prolonged period of time, the most devout of them cry out to God—“Why have you forsaken me?” Without tribulation, we do not build virtue. Without a fire, gold cannot be molded and fashioned into objects of beauty. If we do not face difficulty, we do not get closer to God, for why do you need God if everything in this life is perfect? Ask a 22-year-old man at the peak of his physical energy, hormonal drive, and worldly optimism how much he needs God, and he will respond, “What God?”
The Orthodox ask God to help them bear the cross, to help them endure, but Americans ask for the cross to be removed. “Please God make me rich and alleviate all my health problems!” Americans foremost ask for material blessings, and they worship the prosperity gospel, because their god is not God—it’s comfort. They want to be comfortable in the material sense, and so they donate millions of dollars to a man like Joel Osteen who says that God blesses the congregation if their pastor saves souls through the television box.
Many Americans see Jesus Christ as a man who can help them buy a winning lottery ticket, that we are not called to endure like He did, to suffer humiliation and pain even though he could have chosen otherwise at any time because He is God. We ignore His example and pray for the cross to be removed, but be careful what you wish for, because if Christ in his infinite love grants your request to remove the cross He wants you to bear, He may then give you a bigger cross for your own good, because He knows that our virtue cannot be built through comfort, our purification cannot proceed without trials, our sanctification cannot happen without perseverance. It may seem masochistic to see an Orthodox embrace his cross of suffering, but this is what our Savior did. It’s demonic not to.
Is Jesus Christ your Lord and Savior? Tomorrow He may come to the conclusion that, for your salvation, you must lose all things in this world as happened to Job in the Old Testament. You must lose your property, your money, all your family members and friends, and even your health, and you must endure this until the end of your earthly life. He has deemed it, because without this loss, you will not be saved. Now, is He still your Lord and Savior? Unless you can immediately and unequivocally say Yes, you have not put Him first. You have become too comfortable in this world, too attached to its rewards. Every day you are making dozens of little decisions to maintain the comfort you desire while ignoring the cross that you have to bear.
It’s hard to bear the cross. After receiving God’s grace, I banned only the oldest of my fornication books, but I couldn’t ban Game, the book that comprised most of my income. I reasoned with myself that it wasn’t that bad, but it was. I was scared that I would be poor, that I would have to live with my mother forever, that I would never earn a decent income again, and that I would surely never create a family of my own. I was scared of losing the basic comforts and freedoms that I have become so used to as an adult. I hesitated to bear the cross that Christ has given to me as a man who went down the wrong road for so long. What decision must I make? Do I choose the world and its comforts, risking my soul in the process, or do I choose God? I chose God. He is first, and He doesn’t want me pushing sexual filth or participating in it. The rest of the books had to be banned, and so they were. I’m in His hands now because I am His. He will provide my daily bread, both materially and spiritually. If I ever get worried or distressed, that means I do not trust in Him. That means He is not in my life.
Comfort is not my god. I was not created to live a comfortable existence. A soul was not breathed into my physical body so that I could have material blessings and excellent health and amusements and fleeting emotional happiness. I was put here on this earth to serve my Creator. Everything else that is thrust before me in this modern environment are mere distractions meant to make me covet all that is not God. The Lord can take all this comfort away from me. He can drain my bank account, He can put me on the streets with all the other homeless, and I will still follow Him until the end of time.
Read Next: Lifestyle Is The Disease