This past summer, I heard one of our missionaries share about serving in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Brian talked about how he and his team had gotten comfortable with the idea that they were in a “safe” place. At Pioneer Bible Translators, some of our missionaries serve in places that are not generally considered “safe” because of things like hostile governments, disease threats or relgious persecution. This PNG missionary was in a place that many would believe to be “safe”, but he shared the security issues his team was dealing with. They were facing break-ins where things where stolen, and questions about how people might respond to the results of the upcoming local election results. It was a stressful time to say the least. God used this difficult time to remind him that God alone is where we find security.
Brian said, “The illusion of our personal security is being taken away, and that’s a good thing. The personal security we think we have is an illusion. Anything that masquerades as security that is not the hands of God is an illusion.”
I can’t help but think about his story as our American conversation becomes increasingly focused on safety. It’s difficult to resist getting swept away. It seems like in one way or another everyone wants us to be afraid. Some want us to be afraid of who might come into our country and make us less safe. Others want us to fear that the actions of our elected leaders to keep us safe are actually going to make us less safe.
I’m not interested in being afraid.
The world is not safe. America is not safe. Your state is not safe. Your city is not safe. Your street is not safe. Your home is not safe. God is your only source for safety, He works out bad things for your good [Romans 8:28]. Or as Brian put it, “Safe things might not always happen but you will always be safe.”
God has given us a desire for safety, but only He can meet that desire, the only safety that exists is in Him. So for a Christian the desire for safety is already satisfied, we don’t need to allow ourselves to be manipulated by fear. For a Christian, you are safe with a wall or without. You are safe if strangers are allowed to live among you even when they hate you. Where are your looking for safety?
Yes, strangers could come and they could hurt you, maybe even kill you. But even if they do, your are still safe. Instead of being afraid we can share the safety we know; Jesus. Jesus came and lived among strangers and it cost Him His life, yet He did it willingly to set us free from fear and welcome us into the safety of God our Father.
“Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:12-13
So, what is a reasonable response to potential danger for a follower of Christ? I believe the only reasonable response is to bring your safety, and your hope, to others facing that same danger, but living without Christ. We should be seeking out the strangers and welcoming the foreigners. (I’m not talking about what the American government should do, I’m talking about what you, my fellow Christ follower should do.) We should be sharing our hope with the hopeless, and giving our safety to those consumed with fear. Yes, it is dangerous and we might get hurt, or worse. Jesus faced the same issue, and He chose to step toward the danger, and now we are free.
It’s been said that “the only thing that lasts forever is the Word of God and the souls of men.” Let us live without fear; walking toward those who are fearful, and also toward those they are fearful of. Let us offer the hope and safety we have through Jesus to them both.