Select Page

The word “safety” is pretty trendy these days.

Tonight, I went to Denton to see my fiancee Lindsay. On a normal day, the drive takes about 40 minutes. As I drove home tonight, though, it might have taken a couple of minutes longer than normal. We’ve had a good bit of rain this evening, and the forecast is calling for sharply dropping temperatures. Even though the present temperature remains above freezing (it has already dropped from around 60 this afternoon to the high 30s now), I made sure to be extra cautious as I drove. Rain was coming down in a steady shower and was at times fairly heavy. For a few brief moments I could not even see the stripes on the side of the road. Needless to say, safety was on my brain more than normal as I drove.

As I considered the topic, I realized that we Americans place a high value on safety. We stand in long security lines, have graphic (and even arguably pornographic!) images taken of our bodies, and even sometimes go through intense body searches at the airport – all in the name of safety. Tonight, Lindsay and her roommate both received notice that their respective workplaces had already decided to close tomorrow – not because conditions were presently hazardous, but merely because they were predicted to be as such (I’ll admit that the forecast is pretty ominous, especially for Texas – the conditions tomorrow are expected to be about the same in Fort Worth as Nome, Alaska! Still, the point remains). The word “safety” pulls a lot of weight in our society.

Sometimes I wonder if we treat our faith the same way. At some point, the call to be like Christ became intertwined with the American dream. As Christians, we often seek security, comfort, and safety. We even see it in the Bible; for example, in Psalm 119:117 the psalmist asks God for safety. Interestingly though, the word “safe” is surprisingly absent from the Gospels. It only appears twice (Mark 6:20 and Luke 15:27), and not in either of those times does it reflect a promise from or request to God. Only one of these is two is a statement from Jesus (the Luke passage), used within the parable of the prodigal son to indicate that the son returned “safe and sound” to his family.

With this in mind, it appears as though Jesus isn’t all that interested in safety. Maybe that’s because he broke needless Sabbath rules, often traveled into enemy territory, confronted misguided religious leaders of their wrongdoing, and was ultimately killed because people were afraid of what he might do if they let him live. The life of Jesus was not a life of safety. Jesus had no home. He had no wealth or valuable possessions or “safety net” to fall back on if things didn’t work out just right. Jesus was not interested in keeping himself safe; he was only interested in accomplishing his mission: “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10).

The problem for most of us, though, is that we try to make God seem safe. We want a life of safety, predictability, and security – we want our nice house with a white picket fence, a dog, and 2.5 kids – so we try to find a way to make it fit with the Gospel. But should it work that way?

I’m not trying to say we should live recklessly or dangerously. Don’t go jumping out of an airplane without a parachute or falling asleep on railroad tracks in an effort to be less safe. We should live wisely, but we shouldn’t hold back from doing what we are called to do because it doesn’t seem safe enough. We don’t have to give up our hopes and dreams in order to follow Jesus, but we can’t resist following for the sake of those dreams. That’s when it becomes a problem. If we hesitate to follow God’s plan because of the risk involved, we’re not living for God but ourselves. That’s why Jesus issued a simple call to his followers – “come, follow me.” It didn’t matter if that meant leaving their fishing nets behind. It didn’t even matter if it even meant leaving family behind. It’s a simple choice – follow or don’t.

So today, seek to follow God without fear. May you seek God’s will for your life and for this particular day of it, and in so doing, may you follow that calling without hesitation.