Somewhere along the way, Christianity took a sharp turn from where it began. For most of us today, particularly in the West, we’ve forged a theology of safety. Churches are looked upon as a place of refuge from the outside world. We pray for safety for ourselves and our families. We pray for safety before heading out on the road. We choose safe neighborhoods to live in, and many churches choose safe neighborhoods in which to minister. It’s easier to write a check or send a few volunteers to the unsafe areas, while the church at large is content to remain in the relative safety of suburbia. As we have grown accustomed to safety, we have drifted closer to obscurity.
When I read the Bible, particularly of the early church in the New Testament, I see anything but safety. I see people being stoned, beheaded, imprisoned and deserted. When I look at the life of Jesus I see a man who had no home and no earthly wealth; I see a man who was hated and pursued by the leaders of His nation. I see the violence of His trial and the crucifixion. I see anything but safety. To the contrary, what I see is that the closer you get to Jesus the more danger you will find for yourself.
I don’t know when it was that we began to lose sight of the dangers of following Christ. Certainly those in Countries outside of the West do not subscribe to our theology. They risk their very lives to gather in secret just to talk about Jesus. Torture is very real to these people, not just some horrific act they read about in history books. Yet these same people consider the privilege and joy of knowing Jesus to be worth risking the certain torment they will face to do so.
We have so isolated ourselves for the sake of safety that we have lost sight of our purpose. We have so consumed ourselves with protecting our lives and those of our family that we have turned from the mission of Christ. To be in the will of God, in step with the things He called us to do, is to be in grave danger; its okay, we’re in good company. Again, read of the trials faced by early believers in the New Testament. They too faced persecution, torture and death. We should seek to have it no other way. If we are afraid to deal with danger, how will we ever take the message of Jesus any further than the tree lined streets of our planned communities? How then will we serve? To serve is to put ourselves in uncomfortable and uncertain situations. To serve is to love regardless of consequence.
Of what are we afraid? Are we afraid of physical pain? Jesus endured it for us. Are we afraid of losing our loved ones? Jesus survived it. Are we afraid of death? Jesus conquered it. He has gone there before us; He is there for us now. We have nothing to fear because in the very worst case scenario, we will join Him forever. Death holds no power and no sting. So I ask again, of what are we afraid?
Are you living to survive or to serve? Have you isolated yourself from the world outside in the name of safety but at the cost of Christ’s message? If so, it’s time to reengage with society. It’s time to emerge from the walled fortresses of our churches and communities and take the good news of Jesus to those who so desperately need it. We have the power of Christ within us, so reach out with His courage and His strength. Never lose sight of the fact that we are not called to safety, but rather to serve.