A few years ago our family hiked through a well-known forest in South Africa. The hike is a mixture of excitement and mystery. Eons of history echo in the silence of the lush hushed vegetation. Anticipation is heightened by knowledge of some animals roaming free in the bush – Elephant!

My brother and father, saints that they are, removed a precious sign from the forest (please don’t tell). The sign said: DANGER! YOU ARE NOW ENTERING AN AREA WHERE ELEPHANTS ROAM WILD. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. This is a joke you can pull in South Africa – definitely not In the States.

In more than one church we visited in South Africa we also found a particular and peculiar sign. The sign says: PLEASE LET US KNOW HOW WE CAN HELP YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE IN OUR CHURCH. This sign is as dangerous as the forest with its glaring omission of information. The church has the Lion of Judah roaming in it – heck how can it be comfortable? Just ask the tourists who visited South Africa a few years ago. Close to my house is a canned lion park. A canned lion park is a park where lions are allowed to roam in a relative small space. All of this for the comfort of the tourist; can’t let them search too long for a lion sighting! One of these groups had an individual who wanted a picture of a lion at close range. He left the safety of his hired car, took the coolest picture of a lion and… lost his life! The retrieved camera revealed some spectacular pictures.

We are committing a serious felony in wanting to make people comfortable. Bearing our own cross will never be cushy; it’s hard shoulder-crushing work. I don’t think we will succeed in transforming people from comfortable consumers into radical followers of Christ.

Better to tell the people of the dangers involved in the Christ life, and the church life for that matter from the beginning. Maybe we should post a sign that says: DANGER! YOU ARE NOW ENTERING AN AREA WHERE THE LION OF JUDAH ROAMS WILD. ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK in the front of our gathering places?