How can you be safe in Christianity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
As a resident of New Orleans, I imagine what I would think if I heard a couple together one day talking in their house if a major hurricane was coming.
Wife: Honey. There’s a level 5 hurricane heading towards New Orleans.
Husband: Predictions for us?
Wife: Likely to destroy the entire city and leave few survivors.
Husband: Sounds terrible. What do you want to do that evening?
Wife: Thought we’d stay home and watch TV.
Husband: That sounds good.
It seems nonsensical to think about it. If there is that disaster situation coming, shouldn’t you do something about it? I thought about that today reading J. Gresham Machen’s book Christianity and Culture. The book is inexpensive on Kindle and you can read it in less than an hour easily.
In the last section, he speaks about how the time might seem dark, but this is the time that we can shine the brightest and where we can rise up with excitement knowing the grand task before us and that God is with us. He has also spoken in the book about how you can be safe instead. Is it possible, for instance, to be a soldier and find a definite way to avoid dying in combat? Machen tells us that there definitely is.
Don’t go into combat.
Sure, you’ll be safe, but you won’t do anything to the enemy really. Now today, we understand someone could operate a drone from a distance or something of that sort, but we can all understand Machen’s point. The easiest way to stay safe is to just not do anything risky. That is how many of us approach Christianity.
How many of us talk about people who are dying without Christ and then go about our lives like it’s not a big deal. The atheist Penn Gillette even said that he encourages Christians to proselytize. After all, how much do you have to hate someone to know that there is an eternal judgment for them somehow and yet not want to do the work of evangelism?
Now keep in mind, I’m not saying our whole lives are 24/7 doing evangelism. Not even Jesus did that. I am saying that we should consider doing more for the lost and for our fellow Christians who need encouragement and yes, that means we are putting ourselves in dangerous situations at times.
However, that’s part of the deal of Christianity. We have Christians who are afraid to share the gospel because they might hurt someone’s feelings or someone might make fun of them. Our earlier ancestors would not be afraid to go to the lions for Jesus and in Muslim nations today, as just one example, getting baptized can practically be a death sentence, and they do it anyway.
If you want to know why our country is the way it is, it’s because we are a people who value safety so much that we don’t do anything. Picture the semis on the interstate that say “Safety is my goal.” No, it isn’t. If safety was your goal, you wouldn’t even be out here driving. The surest way to stay safe is to not drive. Your goal is to get your goods to their destination. The means you want to do is a safe means, but your goal is not to be safe.
This doesn’t mean that we knowingly go into dangerous situations just because they’re dangerous. If a hurricane is heading towards you and is likely to kill you if you stay, it is just foolish to not move. You can’t reason with the hurricane after all. Even those skilled in martial arts are told to only use it as a last resort.
Being safe hasn’t even kept us safe in the long run. It’s put us even more on the defensive. Why does the world listen so much to Muslims and to the LGBTQ community? Because they know these people have power and will speak out and go after them if they disagree. They know they can’t run roughshod over these people. What do they know about us? They can say whatever we want and we’ll just stay there and take it. No. This is not what turning the other cheek is about. It’s not about being a doormat. It’s about not escalating tension in the private sphere, not the public one.
Years ago, before the 2016 election, my former father-in-law asked me what I think it will take to change America. My answer has always been the same. The church has to be the church. The gospel doesn’t need America, but America needs the gospel. If we believe Jesus is the only one who can change society and save the souls of men and we do nothing, we either do not care about Jesus, the souls of men, or both.
Choose where you want to go. You can play it safe or live dangerously. If you play it safe, you might be safe indeed, but you sure won’t do anything to make a difference in the world.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)
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