Read Daniel 6
ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10 NRSV)
We live in a culture that strives for safety. We want our churches to be safe, we develop safe zones for our students at universities, we eliminate any lunchtime activities that might not be safe, and we go out of our way to associate with people and places that share our worldview so that our worldviews are safe. We avoid talking about religion and politics at the dinner table, or anywhere else for that matter, to keep safe from opposing viewpoints. We are a culture that is mired in the desire for safety.
In fact, the need for safety has grown since September 11, 2001. The more unsafe we feel, the more we seek to FEEL SAFE; that is a vicious, self-perpetuating cycle because the more we strive to feel safe, the less safe we actually feel. If that is not the case, then it is surely the case that the more we strive to feel safe, the more the world reminds that we are not, which causes us to strive to feel more safe. Regardless, “saftey is a virtue” for many people.
The need for safety carries out beyond just what was mentioned above. It crosses over into our faith journeys as well. In churches, we avoid preaching about controversial topics in order to keep people feeling safe. We avoid having discussions around social issues so that no one is offended and everyone feels safe. Sometimes we avoid even talking about Jesus Christ because that might be too “threatening” to some or, if we do talk about Jesus, we dilute what we say so that people feel safe.
Now, you might be asking the following question: what is wrong with feeling safe? Shouldn’t we aspire to keep people safe? Shouldn’t we strive to give people a sense of security? Should we be striving to create sanctuary in our churches, and aren’t sanctuaries “safe” by definition? My response is following, are we truly creating a “sanctuary” when we create a false illusion of “safety”? I think not. If all we are doing is pulling a ruse, a wool blanket, over people’s eyes, then we are not creating a sanctuary at all. What’s more, where in Scripture is safety defined as a moral goal or a virtue?
Was Abraham safe when left home on a hunch he should follow a God that could not be seen? Was J0seph safe when he prophetically told his brothers what their future was according to a dream God had given him? How about Jonah? Where did playing it “safe” land him? How about Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Esther, Ruth, David, Micah, Zecheriah, Nehemiah, Jesus, or the Apostles? Where do you see God calling them to remain safe?
One of my favorite stories, one I can relate to, is the story of Daniel. When Darius the King put out a decree that no foreigner was permitted to pray to their God so that they could show their loyalty to the king, did Daniel choose to play it safe? No, he prayed anyway and when he was caught he was thrown into a lion’s den to be eaten alive. I think it is “safe” (pun intended) to assume that there was nothing SAFE about that situation!
Yet, Daniel was not seeking a fasle sense of security or a false sense of safety, because Daniel’s faith led him to a place where he was TRULY SECURE. Daniel’s faith led him to dwell in God, who was present with him. Despite the deadly circumstance he found himself in, he was more secure than anyone of those who complied with the king’s orders, and GOD DID NOT FAIL HIM.
Our faith calls us to face lions because the one whom we have faith in IS THE LION OF LIONS! Our God does not promise us safety, but in God we have security! Every day, as a pastor, is another day that I am called to step out in faith and risk facing the lions waiting to consume me. Somedays, it feels as if those lions have taken their fair share of fatal chomps; yet, here I stand. I am still a pastor and I am still taking my daily steps of faith in service of the ONE TRUE LION! This is not just the call of a pastor, but the call of the church! This is the call of all who call themselves Christian and who make up the body of Christ. I pray that you choose to give up safety for the true security of faith!
THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.” – Tacitus
Lord, help me to let go of my need to be safe and seek security through my faith in you. Amen.