You cannot comfort the comfortable.
We teach that you should ensure your choice of residence is heart-led. A critical element in obeying the call of God is to reside where He wants you. The penalty for ignoring this is obvious: Creation will not cooperate with your efforts to build shalom. The natural world around you will reject you if you don’t belong there. You cannot claim the blessings of Biblical Law unless you obey it.
The choice of residence has a lot to do with your evangelism audience. In general, your witness is there, where you live. God’s love in your life begins at home, wherever home may be. Granted, if you have a missionary calling and your residence is only the base of operations, you would spend more time on the mission field. But your neighbors should at least know you live the heart-led life.
Beyond such obvious matters may be the question: Whom do you tell? That’s where our general guideline comes in — comfort the afflicted. Those are the folks who know things aren’t working right and they are looking for a better answer. People who feel like they have things under control aren’t ready to hear about better answers.
And we take the position that we don’t go out of our way to afflict the comfortable. It’s not our calling to make life difficult for people. There’s already plenty of that going around already. That’s because our God reserves that mission for Himself. He’s the one who knows how much it takes to be heard when He calls, and He calls us to be there to welcome these new souls into His household. We pay attention when He pours out His wrath on sin so we can gear up for an influx of people ready to hear His truth.
On the other hand, that means you can’t hide out in your comfort zone. Chances are what makes you comfortable will associate strongly with what makes others comfortable. We are only human, after all. If you are going to comfort the afflicted, you need to go where they are. That doesn’t mean so much changing residence or journeying into the darkest hell-holes of the world, but it does mean spending time with folks who aren’t in their comfort zone. Jesus used to spend time around social outcasts and even crooks.
Chances are, they won’t come to us; we have to go to them. I’m not going to tell you what “going” means; that command comes in all shapes and sizes. The point is that you have to reach outside that comfort zone and learn to prosper in shalom by infiltrating where it isn’t.