A Response to Michael Simmelink’s Message on Comfort

By: Justine Johnson

*The views in this article are not necessarily the views of Cardboard magazine as a whole*

This past Sunday night, I had the opportunity to listen as my brother in Christ and fellow Cardboard writer, Michael Simmelink, spoke in our college’s Praise and Worship service. He used Luke 9:57-62 as the foundation for his message, and his main point was that God is a god of all comfort, but that doesn’t mean He wants us to be comfortable.

I agreed with most of what Michael said, but there were a couple of points that I was a bit unsure about. The first is what he said about Christians holding the American Dream nearly as high as following Jesus. Perhaps I am unique in my experience, but I have never held the American Dream near to my heart at all. There is a good possibility that I am misunderstanding what Michael is saying there, but as I interpreted his meaning, the typical American Christian is more concerned about having a successful, comfortable life than they are about devoting their life to serving God. I don’t think that is necessarily true.

I also think that Michael could have emphasized the concept of obedience more in his message. He kept talking about how we might have to be uncomfortable to follow Jesus, but he didn’t mention the importance of obeying Christ’s command to follow Him. True, we may have to leave physical or emotional comfort behind to be a Christian. But in the long run, is that really the most crucial part of the task to remember? I don’t think so. In my personal walk with Jesus (which is not an example to imitate, by any means), I have found that God’s comfort can come even when I am most uncomfortable…but only when I am obedient.

A final topic that I want to touch on briefly is that of the swearing. I respect that many college students curse or are not offended by cursing, but personally I am not a fan of it, no matter the situation. It is not that I am offended by it, though. As a writer, I am of the opinion that when we have the entire English language at our disposal, a point can be more effectively made when creative adjectives are used instead of swear words. I also know that this opinion is becoming increasingly unpopular among Christian college students. With that in mind, it is with love and respect that I raise a complaint about the usage of foul language in a sermon, not negative judgment.

So in conclusion, I want to reiterate that I love Michael as my brother in Christ, and that I agreed with most of what he said. My prayer is that everyone reading this or watching the video will keep that in mind and give my opinion a fair chance as well.

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3 thoughts on “A Response to Michael Simmelink’s Message on Comfort

  1. Tim says:

    I understand the possible offense from the swearing, but I think it is very important to note the explanation at 20:30 – 20:48. This was intentional and it was not just to swear in chapel, but to make a point, a rather strong one if you ask me. Good job Mike

  2. Cal says:

    On the swearing subject as well, I think that Simm did a great job at pointing out a flaw in us. We were all so taken aback by the simple fact that he said “shit” in the Chapel, rather than the message behind what he was saying. And nothing against your or your beliefs Justine (I respect that of you and applaud you for speaking up), but using a different word wouldn’t have gotten the reaction needed to prove his point.

  3. Michael Simmelink says:

    I want to take and moment and give some support why I did what I did by responding to Justine’s comments. They were a good representation of various other people’s feedback, so it’s worth addressing.

    1. I understand that not everyone is consciously and intentionally chasing the American Dream. That’s a good thing. But I wasn’t trying to preach to the choir in this sermon. If we remove ourselves from the Midwest and look at American Christianity in general, there are a lot of people living the life I explained. Even right here in Orange City it’s pretty evident that a lot of people can’t imagine a faith where they have to choose between following Jesus and buying another new car.

    2. In regards to obedience, I feel that word can have a whole sermon devoted to itself, and I didn’t want to get into that arena. I also felt like Matt Lange’s talk the week before did a sufficient job dealing with the “Follow me” part of Luke 9. Justine brought up a really good point about the relationship between comfort and obedience.

    3. The swearing. I had a ton of positive feedback on this as well as some pretty negative. I remain firmly convinced using shit was necessary to prove my point. Because there were some people who were more troubled by my farm language than their perception of God being okay with comfort. I get that some people don’t like swearing, but I’m also of the opinion that no one has really given me a good reason why shit is a curse word to begin with. I wouldn’t have taken God’s name in vain or dropped the F bomb in chapel because I view them on a different level as shit. Tony Campolo was my inspiration on this.

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