Cross-Cultural Missions: Don’t Cling to Comfort

three friends of different religions standing happily together

As the big plane backed away from the gate, I sank down into the seat, allowing myself to decompress. I looked out the window, tracing the city with my eyes.   

That out there—that’s a hard place.           

I’d gotten to visit a few countries recently that I’d call hard. All of them have amazing food. All of them have caring people. All of them need Jesus in a big way . . . but this one was different.           

It invaded my personal space.           

Inside the confines of a hotel room or house, you can breathe. Read. Make dinner. Hear yourself think.           

Walk outside, and you instantly give up rights to peace. People follow you, touch you, talk to you, yell at you. It starts the moment you walk out the door, and it doesn’t stop. Over and over and over.           

Gratitude vs. Entitlement

Why am I telling you this? I love these people. I’d love to be one of those precious heroes of mine who have made their lives in this country to tell those beautiful people of the love, the freedom, the peace they can find in Jesus Christ. And not the quiet, leisurely walk-to-the-grocery-store kind of peace—but rather the inner peace that will last for eternity.           

But as I sank deeply into the window seat on the plane, I let myself be honest. I relished the peace. I thought of home and how easy life was there. And I realized there’s a fine line between gratitude and entitlement and I had jumped so far over it that the line had retreated almost out of sight.           

And I felt a check in my heart that made me realize that, once again, God didn’t have all of me.           

I was clinging to comfort. And that’s never OK.

Entitlement threatens to creep in all the time. Sometimes it keeps us from being willing to move our lives to hard places. Sometimes it just keeps us from being willing to get off the couch and make the effort to meet that person from another country who lives nearby but whose life looks different from ours.       

Check Your Heart

So what do we do? I know for me, it’s important to keep my heart checked with God. I have to ask Him to show me:

  • Am I holding onto anything that’s keeping me from spending my time every day to bring Him glory and show His love to people who haven’t yet experienced it for themselves, people He brought into my community and neighborhood?
  • Am I choosing how to use my day, or am I letting Him have control of my minutes?           

And then I have to make intentional choices, intentional goals:

  • This week, I’m going to go meet 1 person from another country, at work or at school or out in the community.
  • I’m going to go to an ethnic restaurant and start building some relationships.
  • I’m going to ask questions about people’s country and culture.
  • I’m going to care about who they are as people and get to know them.
  • I’m going to make friends with them.
  • I’m going to invite them into my home.

And I’m going to remember that my personal space was never my own. My whole life is God’s, and it’s about showing that to others.

Grace Thornton is a writer who lived in England and the Middle East and traveled extensively into different contexts to meet people and tell the stories of what God is doing in their lives. She is the author of Unshakable Pursuit: Chasing the God Who Chases Us.


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