There is a lot of talk in the air lately about being "safe". I am not talking about in the context of the physical world. The circles where I have been hearing it have been in the spiritual context. What is your response when you hear the term "safe" used in that context?
First, I think it is important to acknowledge that being safe in the physical world makes a lot of sense ... in fact it is down right crucial and essential! If you aren't safe, you lose your life and probably endanger the lives of others also. How many of us get steamed when we see someone driving carelessly? How many of you remind your teenager to be safe when they leave the house? Being safe is mandatory ... in the physical world. Simply said, not being safe leads to death in the physical world.
As we all know, things in the spiritual world are all upside down ... topsy turvy. It makes NO sense! If you want to live, you must die. If you want to be first, you must be last. If you want to be the most important, you must be the servant. If you want to be really rich in spirit, you must be poor in spirit. If you want to be strong, you must be weak. Instead of hating your enemies, love them! Would it be safe to say that in the spiritual world, most things are the direct opposite of what we think of in the physical world? The world view vs the spiritual view.
Well, what I want to submit for your consideration is that the same holds true with the concept of being "safe". Yeah, that means "safe" in the spiritual context has the direct opposite consequence from the physical world. Being safe in the spiritual world can kill you, and endanger the spiritual lives of those around you.
And by "Kill you" I mean "to make you ineffective and irrelevant." Have you ever seen someone you considered to be dead spiritually? Ever seen a congregation you considered dead spiritually? My bet is that in both instances you find being "safe" a priority. Are there examples in scripture of people and groups of people who put a priority on being "safe"? Ask Joshua and Caleb about the other 10 wanting to be safe, and the consequences. How long did choosing to be safe cause the Israelites to be ineffective and irrelevant to the world around them?
Without exception, all "safe" choices are made out of FEAR of something. In this spiritual world, fear can only exist as a result of a lack of faith. So yes, the link is that safe choices are made ultimately because of a lack of faith. Let's go back to scripture again and see those who had incredible faith, and the power it gave them over fear and safe choices.
Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego and the fire, Daniel and the lions, Hezekiah and facing Sennacherib ... and the list goes on and on. All of them could have made safe choices. Their faith wouldn't allow it. Safe and faith can't coexist. Want to move on to the New Testament? Here we go! I wonder how things might have been different if Joseph had put away Mary, which undoubtedly would have been the safe choice! Peter could have stayed in the boat, Zacchaeus could have stayed home, the blind man in John 9 could have given the Pharisees a safe answer when they had him in their Kangaroo court. Nope, no safe actions by those folks. Their faith motivated them to be bold, in the face of whatever was before them, because they knew God was greater than the thing they might fear.
Ahh ... and then we come to Jesus. (I've been saving the best for last!) First off, I think for sure the safe thing would have been to stay with the Father instead of coming here for us. Jesus was consistent, and from that first choice to his last one, he ALWAYS shunned the safe choice. He chose quite the opposite, really. Not only was he NOT safe, he was the complete oppositehe chose to be RADICAL! We all acknowledge who the folks were who were making the safe choices, like not healing on the sabbath and the likes. The Pharisees wanted to be safe, at all cost. And Jesus drove them crazy! To be more accurate, they hated him for it ... to the point they looked for ways to kill him, and eventually did.
Other examples of Jesus not being safe? Who did he hang out with? How safe was it to pick common fishermen and tax collectors as his leaders? How about choosing Saul? Can you hear that choice being discussed in the Sanhedrin committee meeting? No way would they have chosen him - too risky! He might offend someone - namely them!
And last but not least, thank goodness Jesus wasn't safe when it came to the cross. If he had been, you and I would never know what it would be like to be safe from sin and safe from Satan. We never would have had the chance to experience God's SAVING grace. You see, being radical and bold and acting in faith, instead of fear, is what leads to REALLY being safe ... ain't it a topsy-turvy upside-down spiritual world? Yeah, that is why we feel like aliens here. When we aren't making safe choices, that is. In our walk with him, He NEVER, EVER calls us to be "safe". Why? Because instead of leading to life, it leads to death.
"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did". - I John 2:6
It wasn't a safe walk.
David Underwood is an advancement officer at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. He is married to Jan, travels a lot in his work, and among his community of Christian blogging friends is known as an indefatigable encourager ... a "Barnabas" of the blogs. E-mail him at [firstname.lastname@example.org].