Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Is Your God Safe?

Have you ever been truly frightened? Not worried, a little anxious, or nervous, but freaking scared out of your mind? The kind of scared that you don't talk about later because you remember the feelings too well? Ever been that kind of scared? Odds are, at some point in life you have been. It isn't fun.

It is something we try to avoid.

At all costs...

So what happens when we experience that moment when we realize that the God we serve isn't as safe as we once thought? In fact, we realize that He is terrifying and have to think hard about everything we have learned about God. What happens when the God who has always brought us comfort suddenly scares us to death?

The FEAR of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. Proverbs 1:7

Fear: Emotional foreboding or dread of impending distress or misfortune.

Not quite the message of the modern church is it?

What has happened today is God has been turned into a therapist, we are the patients, and the therapist's goal is to make us happy and whole. God is safe and quiet. He is there to calm your nerves and make life pleasant. He is a friend who is always supportive and never critical. He is a compassionate care-giver that understands the human plight and just wants to help. So, if you will just let Him, He will make it all better because you were created to live "in total victory." (quoted from Mr. Happy himself, Joel Osteen)


Problem is, that is not why Jesus died and it is not what God has in mind for us today.  It is not at all what Paul had in mind as he evangelized the Gentile world.

Perhaps, no, CERTAINLY this misguided view of God is what has kept many people from growing in their Christianity. If God is there to make us happy, then He will never ask us to do anything that could possibly be difficult or lead to struggle, pain, or sorrow.

Lets look at the scriptures to see where God called someone to happiness and comfort for the sake of His Kingdom.

Go ahead and look. Sure, there was that one guy.


No, his life was pretty hard.

No matter how long you look, you won't find it. Happily ever after in God's Kingdom means hard service and sacrifice until you die, THEN, you get to enjoy eternal blessings. Think about this list

Paul-imprisoned, beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, bad health, poor, hated and despised
Peter-crucified upside down
John-boiled in oil (survived), imprisoned on an island (survived)
John the Baptist- imprisoned, beheaded
Job-lost his whole family, his health, and his wealth BECAUSE he was a righteous man. (Bet Joel doesn't preach on that one!)
Jonah-swallowed by a whale (brought it on himself)
Isaiah - Sawed in two
Jeremiah - beaten, put in the stocks, thrown into a pit, repeated attempts at his life
Moses - led an obstinate people in circles for 40 years...

All of these people and more suffered and suffered some more because of their faith in God, yet they all persevered and continued to serve God. Why? Because their God wasn't safe. They knew He was unpredictable, powerful, and that their purpose was to serve no matter what. Today, people get angry and leave when a worship service runs too long.

So I ask you, when was the last time you were truly afraid of God? I know it is seems like a strange question in today's culture, but seriously, have you ever been so overcome with the knowledge of his power, righteousness, and holiness that you literally became afraid of Him? If you haven't, then you don't know Him. You may know about Him, but you don't know Him personally.

Because when you do know Him, you know that occasionally and sometimes quite often, He is going to ask you to do something that you don't like. You know inherently that He has called you to do more than simply go to church on Sunday morning. You know that your life is not your own, but belongs to Him because he bought you. The price? His Son Jesus Christ.

And when He calls, you obey. You listen and you do it even though you know you are going to catch it from friends, family, and enemies alike. You are scared to death but you do it anyway because you are more AFRAID of God than you are of the situation.

You know your god is safe when all he calls you to do is whatever comes easy or when the biggest sacrifice you make is the $5 you throw in the plate as it comes by. God is seen as too safe by too many people.

The problem with a safe god, is that you get safe results. Paul's God wasn't safe, and so, Paul himself wasn't safe. Thus, Paul changed the world. He paid a price for it, but he also accomplished great things. Everyone wants God to be active in their lives, but what they really want is the safe god, not the God who is the creator of the heavens and the earth.

The Psalmist understood it. Check this out.

Psalm 97:1-6
The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; 
 let the many coastlands be glad! 
 Clouds and thick darkness are all around him; 
  righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. 
  Fire goes before him 
and burns up his adversaries all around. 
 His lightnings light up the world; 
 the earth sees and trembles. 
 The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, 
      before the Lord of all the earth. 
The heavens proclaim his righteousness, 
and all the peoples see his glory. 

Let me tell you a secret: That Psalm was not written to give you warm fuzzies. It was written to express the power, majesty, and perfection of God. It was written to cause fear, fear that leads to worship and service.

If you are serving a safe God, then you are leading a safe life that probably has you bored to death. Why? Because you were created to serve this terrifying, majestic God. You were created for Him and His purposes and His purposes are big. Let go of the safety of your safe god and serve the God who created Heaven and Earth. The God who sent His Son to die a horrible death so save your soul. Stop being safe and start living in faith. Get back into the scriptures and learn about the God who WILL tell you to do something that will scare you to death. When He asks, then you will find out what your faith is made of. If you obey not only will you stop being safe, you will wonder why you have waited so long to follow the God who is always Above Reality.


Mark said...

To me,there is another level to this idea of safety. You're hitting it from an earthly (physical)perspective, and I get your point. Discipleship is not a call to comfort, although that's the popular theology. I believe the pre-trib rapture theory is based upon the idea that God wouldn't allow us to suffer. Historically, nothing could be further from the truth. God highly values the suffering of His saints, and rewards them accordingly.

But the ultimate in being "unsafe" is to be outside the will of God. They call it "unsaved" for a reason. Very interesting blog. I enjoyed reading it.

Roger Smith said...


You are correct. Dispensational, pre-trib theology is completely based on escapism and easy believism. Jesus talked about carrying a cross. This is more than imagery. It is a declaration of death for the believer.

Reuben McGilvary said...

An insightful and truth bearing message! No one has ever grown in total perspective of life and human spiritual development from only following a path of least resistance and ease; conversely, we regress. We lose focus on the world around us, and lose appreciation for all things that don't fit the "norm" that we have established following this non-biblical philosophy. If you're comfortable in your job, your strategic position with your family, and in your spiritual growth, you're not growing. Stretching yields advancement, but only if you apply yourself. Great message Roger!