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God’s Will = Safest Place on Earth. Really?

January 17, 2011

Jeff Jones’ joking yesterday (Chase Oaks Church – Urban Myths Series kickoff) about an advertising agency advising Jesus on what to, and not to say as he is recruiting disciples to “Follow Him” reminds me of this newspaper ad recruiting for Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctica expedition:

“God’s Will Safest Place on Earth” – really?

This sounds good…we’d like for this to be true maybe, as “safety, comfort, clean” all appeal to us.  My son’s prayers most consist of “Help us to have a safe and wonderful day…”, which is sweet coming from a 10 year old, but an attitude that proliferates Christianity.  If we don’t have a safe & wonderful day, we wonder what we’ve done wrong, sins committed maybe…or is this payback in some way, shape or form?  No, not necessarily any of the above.

All in all, as Jeff says, this is a dangerous thought in the Christian life.

In Matthew 10, the disciples are given “power on loan” (Matt 10:1) to go the “lost sheep of Israel” to preach & teach about the kingdom of heaven being at hand.  Jesus says to heal the sick, rais the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.  All good things right?  This is what God would want right?  This is His will, right?  If this is me, I’m probably thinking that everyone should really be on board with this mission trip plan – because we are going to do “all the good” as we go to these towns & villages.

Jeff’s first point is that as Jesus followers, we are SENT TO NEED – Jesus went to the point of greatest need.  Not to talk to the most “desirous” people by the world’s standards nor going to the most “ideal” places (the leper settlements outside the city, etc.).  Since Jesus went to the point of greatest need, if we follow Him, that is where we need to be going too.  We are not here just to hang out in our Christian cliques and wait for the Second Coming, but we are here to fulfill God’s mission on earth – we are sent to be agents of restoration, armed with His power (Christ in you, the hope of glory – Colossians 1:27).

Jeff then posed the question: When was the last time you made yourself/allowed yourself to be uncomfortable and move into the need of someone else? Ugh.  Not sure I can remember when.  I HAVE done this in the past, but yesterday’s manna is wormy today – I can’t live in the “used to” when there are still needs in the now.

Jeff’s next point is that as Jesus followers, we are SENT TO DANGERMatt 10:16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves…” Jesus followers going into the points of greatest need are not popular visits to those who seek to oppress the needy…meaning the efforts of those who seek to do good works will be thwarted by forces of evil.  As we carry His light into dark places, darkness does run from the light, but it doesn’t run away quietly every time.  Jesus gives them a preview in Matt 10:17-18, of what kinds of reception they’ll get from men, but He doesn’t camp out here – He is real with them, but His focus is not on the enemy or his actions, but on the power of the Trinity at work:

Verse 19 – 20 : “But when they hand you over (not IF but WHEN), do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.  For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.”

Verse 26:  “Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known (darkness will run from the light – ‘I Am the Light of the World’ – see also John 8:12; John 9:5; John 12:35-36, 46).”

Verse 28:  “Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

Jeff concludes with the notion that we should not be so concerned with safety – praying for safety, etc.  Rather, we should pray dangerous prayers…pray that He would make us brave, to embolden us to be courageous in the face of fear and to stand firm against the wiles of the enemy and GO AND DO because CHRIST IS IN YOU.

Let’s not “settle for safe”.

One of my favorite books (and one of the most challenging to me personally) is The Barbarian Way by Erwin McManus.  Referring to John 21:20-21 he writes, “This is the sticky part of the barbarian call.  It’s not fair or equitable.  When you hear the call, when you follow the call, you must recognize that it is a life-and-death proposition.  When you understand what Jesus means when He says that you must follow Him, you finally realize that this is not a cattle call.  He is not calling you to the same life that everyone else will live.  He’s not even calling you to the same path that every follower of Christ will walk.  Your life is unique before God, and your path is yours and yours alone.  Where God will choose to lead you and how God chooses to use your life cannot be predicted by how God has worked in the lives of others before you.  Jesus’ response to Peter was as straight-forward as it could possibly get:  “If I want John to live and you to die, what is that to you?  Your part is to follow Me.  My part is to lead the way.”

Man.  Tough stuff, but real.  Stepping into need is messy, inconvenient and not where I want to go, if I am pursuing comfort and safety.  However, the call was, “Follow Me,” and I have accepted….

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2011 8:35 AM

    Hey Brother:

    Our teaching pastor – Jarrett Stevens – preached a message a while back and used the term “a beautiful danger” describe our mission as Christ followers.

    Semper Fi,
    Gene

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