Are you troubled by all the talk of what is safe or not these days? In a world full of terrorism, riots, and abusive authority figures, we want protection — but could it be the pendulum has swung too far the other way?
Don’t get me wrong; I believe in safety. Abuse and bullying need to be called out and shut down. Having said that …
I’ll give you the most extreme example I’ve heard: When God the Father sent his Son to earth to die for our sins, he committed child abuse.
Seriously? Let’s think this through.
God is the righteous Judge of all that is. We are created in his image; that’s where we get our sense of justice.
Now, in an ironic twist, we wear the lens of our culture’s values and become God’s judge instead of acknowledging him as ours.
Our working definition of what is right or wrong, safe or harmful, good or bad, is largely framed by the media and pop culture, not by the word of God.
Even if we consider ourselves Christians, we can easily slip into this paradigm.
Here’s the illogical places where this thinking leads:
- Church discipline is emotionally abusive
- Spanking is physical abuse; it teaches violence
- Calling homosexuality a sin is a hate crime
You get the idea.
We tend to see all pain as a bad thing.
Yet consider some examples where the very thing that seems harmful is necessary:
- Surgery hurts, but the cancer needs to be cut out for the purpose of healing.
- Immunization shots hurt, but their purpose is to prevent disease.
- Controlled fires help block and overcome a large wildfire.
We must be careful not to confuse hurt with harm.
C.S. Lewis explains this distinction in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. When the beaver tells Lucy about Aslan, the lion who represents Christ, she wants to know if Aslan is safe.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. ” …Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good.”
Not “safe” — good. God is wiser and more loving and greater than we are. He knows exactly how to use pain in your life in order to accomplish his purposes in you.
God’s motive in allowing pain is love. He is after your greater good.
“…we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness.” — Hebrews 12:9
God is simultaneously kind and severe (Romans 11:22). Because his image in us has been marred, he has a goal in mind: Our transformation into the image of his beloved son.
He’s not messing around. And as it turns out, transformation isn’t painless.
So when I hear someone talk about a place that isn’t safe (especially if it’s the Church) or a person who isn’t safe (especially if it’s someone in spiritual authority), I’m learning to get both sides of the story before I cry foul along with everyone else.
If by “safe” we mean no one challenges or confronts us, and our sin is accommodated and validated, that kind of “safety” is not a good thing.
In fact, it’s quite dangerous in the long run.
Here’s what the goodness of God looks like:
He loves us too much to leave us in our present condition.
How do you define “safe?”
To comment, click on title.
Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid at FreeDigitalPhotos.net