One of the greatest dangers facing the modern Church is the prevalence of Christians thinking they can play it safe and still have a place in the Kingdom of God. If that seems controversial, let me be perfectly clear and a bit blunt: you cannot play it safe and please God. Those two ideas are diametrically opposed. The life of Jesus was filled with danger and discomfort.
He warned his followers their lives would be the same if they chose to stick with Him ((John 16:33; Matthew 10:16-25; Luke 9:57-58). Fast forward a couple thousand years, and the propensity to play it safe has become the order of the day in many – if not most – churches.
Disciples live by a “no coasting” rule. They understand following Jesus means every day of their life from this point on will be difficult. The best part is they’re okay with that reality. Too many church-goers who call themselves “Christians” apparently have no idea how to live life without coasting. They get tired of pedaling almost from the moment they say a prayer to surrender their lives to Jesus. Once the moment has passed, they are right back to what they’ve always done. They are right back to playing it safe, maximizing the enjoyment of their time on earth before it’s done.
I will confess few things get under my skin more than watching someone who claims to be a Christian live in practically every way like their neighbor who has no knowledge of Christ. Their goals appear to be the same as they endeavor to keep up with the Jones’s just like almost every other American. I get angry when I see the extravagance some live in while there are still starving children in this world. What does our lifestyle say about our commitment to Jesus? How can we as a church condone living lives beyond our means simply for the approval of others?
There are more slaves today than at any point in history, but apparently we’ve got more important things on which to spend our time and money. How can we claim to be followers of Jesus and not do the things He told us to do? How can we sit back and watch the evil in the world around us without being on the frontlines demonstrating the love and mercy of Christ?
To be a disciple of Jesus means we never have the option to play it safe. We might get hurt. We might even be killed. I know this because it happened to Jesus, it happened to His early disciples, and the Bible makes it clear it will happen to us (John 16:33; Matthew 10:16-25; Hebrews 11:32-38). To build the Kingdom of Heaven here on earth, we must recognize we can never play it safe. Following Jesus is gritty, raw, and dangerous. If that isn’t what you signed up for, you may need to reconsider whether or not Jesus is worth it to you. This isn’t the kind of nice story you heard in Sunday School. My fear is what many of us learned in Sunday School is just enough to make us aware of the Hell for which we are destined. You cannot play it safe and please God. Are you willing to lay it all on the line for Him? He did not hesitate to do so for you.