The Risk of Comfort, Idol of Security and Call to Follow without Terms  

Posted by Mike Sharrow

Had a great conversation recently with a guy about ministry and missions. Sometimes God has led this guy into some pretty shady parts of the world...alone. His family isn't always thrilled with where God takes him, even though God has always brought him back (so far).

He tells the story of a lady living in a country where preaching the Gospel is not accepted. She receives a dream and urging to go and preach the gospel outside the local police station. Everyone advises against it - it's a recipe for certain incarceration. Sure enough, she preaches for just a few minutes before being thrown into a women's prison. Within a few weeks hundreds of women have come to faith in that prison. The warden has her released from jail, charges dropped and offers to hire her because she had single-handedly eliminated the violence and revolt issues of his prison. She refuses the money but takes him up on the offer to have ongoing access to the women.

I listened to a sermon this weekend on the radio by a guy calling out the false theology that assumes being "in the center of God's will" is a place of physical safety, comfort and prosperity. Pitting that false premise against 1 Corinthians 6 and 2 Corinthians 11, the teacher highlighted that we must recognize that security in God does not equate to avoidance of very real risks. Ministry is messy and dangerous.

A sociology scholar named Friedman had this observation:

Today the issues most vulnerable to becoming displacements are, first of all,anything related to safety: product safety, traffic safety, bicycle safety, motorboat safety, jet-ski safety, workplace safety, nutritional safety, nuclear safety...This focus on safety has become so omnipresent in our chronically anxious civilization that there is real danger we will come to believe that safety is the most important value in life. It is certainly important as a modifier of other initiatives, but if a society is to evolve, or if leaders are to arise, then safety can never be allowed to become more important than adventure. We are on our way to becoming a nation of "skimmers," living off the risks of previous generations and constantly taking from the top without adding significantly to its essence. Everything we enjoy as part of our advanced civilization, including discovery, exploration and development of our country, came about because previous generations made adventure more important than safety.

Jesus simply said, "Follow." Sometimes it involved witnessing great miracles and ministry, other times it was not "safe."

What ministry work is God leading you to that is dumbed down because of safety alone?

This entry was posted at Monday, June 30, 2008 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

8 thoughts and responses

safety is found in him...security in his grace...

June 30, 2008 at 6:33 PM

"I've worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death's door time after time. I've been flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummeled with rocks once. I've been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard traveling year in and year out, I've had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I've been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I've known drudgery and hard labor, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather". Paul

Then, Paul sums it up with his desire for his followers to experience the same joy he lives with. As the end times draw near, it is likely we will have the opportunity to better relate to Paul's writing.

June 30, 2008 at 7:29 PM

This is perhaps the greatest obstacle we have to overcome when recruiting for global mission trips. When in reality, driving on Loop 410 may be statistically more dangerous than spending two weeks in Kenya. Oh how we miss out on experiencing God and limit His power and ability to use us when we yield to fear and our desire for safety.
Those who have the greatest stories to tell about God's provision and power are those who have opted for adventure over security.

July 1, 2008 at 9:58 AM

just thinking here...

how many of our security devices (physical, emotional, or whatever) actually are designed to keep others out?

you just got a new alarm right? think through how it works. what if you lived your spiritual life with such a device...

you are already so much more brave than you know, with courage that comes from a never-ending Well of hope and comfort.

i am proud of you.

July 2, 2008 at 7:16 AM

Great comments everyone!

So how do we live with surrendered boldness, submitted dare and selfless adventure? What I mean is - obviously just take risks ("I laugh in the face of danger") does not equate to faith or obedience. It can just be poor judgment. Yet, we need to have an "all chips in" and "where He leads I will go" embracing of the Great Adventure - whether it involves perceived risk, some risk or true risk that results in harm.

Thoughts?

July 2, 2008 at 11:39 AM

I just received an email from a leader in our church who's ramping up his commitment to helping a group of folks grow spiritually. This email contained the highlight phrases of my week:

"I'm ready to do what it takes, and I'm not afraid."

Man! Give me 30 folks like that and we can defeat the Midianites quicker than 3,000 "i'd like to try to kind of do it" people.

I was encouraged.

July 2, 2008 at 4:40 PM
Anonymous  

I'm in, just so long as Paul's not coming and no shipwrecks or snake bites. Yeah. I'm in. Kinda. But, first I need to go bury the dead. They stinketh. Yeah. Go ahead on. I'll catch up.

July 2, 2008 at 4:50 PM
Peter  

"Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith". Peter

July 3, 2008 at 8:23 AM

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