Comfort Zone or Danger Zone?
I've had the joy and blessing of gathering regularly with a small group of ladies to study Christian healing. When I joined my church, there was no OSL Community, so I offered to lead a "Studies in Christian Healing" small group. We became an intimate group of only four or five who met twice a month, and I cherished our time together.
Because I was new to the church, I had no idea what the level of interest or experience in healing would be. So I started with Francis MacNutt's book The Healing Reawakening, as a sort of introduction to the idea of healing in the church. As it turned out, there were folks in my church who had long been involved in healing/deliverance ministry... either on a regular basis, or periodically through foreign missions. So, much of what we were reading in MacNutt's book was not new to us. Next, we read Agnes Sandford's The Healing Gifts of the Spirit.
We found that the books were less "studies" for us than springboards to conversations about our own experiences with the Holy Spirit, which were deep, and wide, and wonderful. There's nothing like gathering with a group of friends who "get you!" Almost like a support group, we shared experiences, laughed, and often found ourselves wondering why everybody else didn't "get it." We also shared prayer concerns that involved things like demonic influence ... things we might not be brave enough to share with a larger prayer group.
We knew we were different. We knew that some folks in our church might think we were crazy because we prayed in tongues, believed in "downloads from God," or had been lain out on the floor by the power of the Holy Ghost. We had experienced rejection and perhaps even backlash from clergy or laity because of our beliefs in the charisms. We had left churches because of their lack of Spirit-filled worship. We were kindred spirits, which is why we cherished our time together.
I guess you could say that this little group was a comfort zone.... something that feels so good, you don't want it to change in any way. Warning! Comfort zones can become danger zones if you're not mindful!
As fruitful as it is to gather with like-minded people, this is NOT all that the Order of St. Luke is meant to be. Yes, this is an important part of being a community, and we know the Lord does amazing things when His people are in unity! We build one another up in Christ when we are able to share deeply.
But at its heart, the Order of St. Luke is a mechanism for discipleship. Spreading the word and teaching others is what keeps the order alive, and in so doing, spreads the Gospel exponentially. It's easy to fall into a pattern of just hanging out with our own people, people who "get us." But when we do, we face a danger of becoming a clique... of separating ourselves from the rest of the body of Christ, our fellow brothers and sisters who may not quite "get us," but who, with just a little encouragement, might become the next Agnes Sanford or Francis MacNutt, for all we know!
So I entreat you.... DO find or build a comfort zone.... but do not get stuck in it! Open your little group up to be a comfort for others, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Invite people, and don't be afraid to share with them the things you have seen and done—not in a condescending way, of course. Be open to their gifts. Be encouraging and uplifting. Allow the Holy Spirit to work among you.
Comfort can often mean isolation. What good are we if our light is under a bushel?
"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt 28: 19-20