Is It Safe? (re-publish)
June 07, 2016 | President's Slice
By Joe Hale
I have put a lot of personal time into a project in (unnamed country) since its inception, and it’s been quite interesting to hear the reaction to folks regarding this needy place. Sometimes, in peoples’ minds, they group many countries in the Middle East all together, usually asking the big question, “Is it safe?”
Some might (not so jokingly) say that it’s not safe to live in Memphis, and depending on what statistic you read, or what newspaper column you believe, your conclusion would be true. The bottom line, however, is to ask ourselves if the question itself is the right one to ask.
I am convinced that modern Christianity, for the most part, is stained by an attitude that demands comfort, ease and safety from God. This is far from Biblical Christianity.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission, what did He say? “Go, therefore, and make disciples in all the safe places of the world...”? Did he guide Paul’s missionary journeys by the “safeness” of places in need?
While it is not wrong to pray for safety, it is indeed wrong to think that safety is the chief filter that determines God’s will and direction in our lives and ministry. The bottom line question for us must always be “How could my life most glorify God?” and pray to that end. If we do that, we can move forward in boldness in obedience to His commands, trusting Him with such issues as safety. But to do so means to learn the Biblical lesson of what it means to “die” in the manner that Paul spoke of when he said, “I die daily.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, in his book The Gulag Archipelago tells of his morning chat with God in which he mentally killed himself each morning, after which he could view each moment of the day as a gift from God, having already died to it. So few Christians have ever even come close to this kind of attitude regarding their lives, no wonder we cannot fill our positions in places like (unnamed country).
Bob Sjogren, in his book “Unveiled at Last” shares four deaths God expects of Christians: We must die to self; we must die to family; we must die to our nation; and we must die to humanity. Now, hold on, before someone starts to say we’re sounding like a cult or something! Let’s just see what the Bible says.
I liken this whole principle to that of comparing our earthly marriage to what things will be like in heaven. If you are indeed in a great marriage here on earth, it’s hard to imagine (or desire) a place where “there is no marriage or giving in marriage.” All we can conclude is that, if what we have in heaven is THAT good, it must be something really great!
When God’s Word speaks of dying to self, family, nation and humanity, the analogy is similar—that our love and commitment to God is so all-consuming, that all else “seems” as hate in comparison! This does not mean that we literally “hate” ourselves, our families, our country, or humanity; rather, it means that our love for God is to be so great that everything else pales in comparison. When our lives become consumed in bringing glory to God, at that moment we have indeed died to everything else. Our problem with ease, comfort and safety suddenly become non-issues.
So, “Is it Safe?” is indeed NOT the right question. For the follower of Christ who has learned the important level of “dying daily” there is only the issue of desiring for my will to be conformed to His; and that means my life’s ultimate purpose is to bring Him the most glory possible—whether I live, or whether I die.
God, help me not to just preach this message, but to live it…and die it.