“You have a subtle gift for comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.” Dr. Dan Wilson, speaking to me. 🙂
At first I wasn’t sure how to take that statement, but it’s grown on me in the last year or so. I like it because it means that, hopefully, my ministry more and more consistently reflects the Gospel because that’s exactly what the Gospel does. It comforts and afflicts. It encourages and convicts.
Jesus was the Word personified, and He both comforted and afflicted. He cleaned out the Temple and confronted the Pharisees, afflicting the religiously comfortable.
But He also gave the Samaritan woman a look at her hopeless life that had been afflicting her and comforted her by offering the Living Water of Himself.
The Gospel still comforts and afflicts us today. Or at least it should. It afflicts the areas of our life in which we fall into comfortable religion, challenging us back to relationship. It comforts us with grace and forgiveness when we fall one more time to our sin that so easily entangles, whatever that sin may be.
Do you allow the Gospel to both comfort and afflict you? Do you allow God to use you as an agent of both comfort and affliction in the lives of those around you?
When we speak and live the Gospel consistently, we can’t help but do both, because the Gospel made Flesh did both. As believers, Little Christs literally, we should both afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.
Just make sure you allow the Word to do the same to you first. Acting in the flesh gets it backwards every time and we end up comforting the comfortable and further afflicting the afflicted. Just ask Jesus- He was the afflicted that was afflicted by the comfortable.