Thursday, April 11, 2013

Better than safe

In his book, Just Courage, Gary Haugen, president and CEO of International Justice Mission writes about how we mess up our children when the only thing we want for them is their safety:
After we have poured into our children all the good food and shelter and clothing, after we have provided them with great education, discipline, structure and love, after we have worked so hard to provide every good thing, they turn to us and ask, "Why have you given all of this to me."
And the honest answer from me is, "So you'll be safe."
And my kid looks up at me and says, "Really? That's it? You want me to be safe? Your grand ambition for my life is that nothing bad happens?"

And I think something inside them dies. They either go away to perish in safety, or they go away looking for adventure in the wrong places. Jesus, on the other hand, affirms their sense of adventure and their yearning for larger glory.

Just take Jesus’ interaction with his disciples on the evening of his resurrection. They are huddled in a room behind locked doors, praying, “Lord God, keep us safe.” They had reason to pray such prayers.  Their leader, Jesus, had been crucified just a few days before. That alone was enough to make them think they might be in danger too, but that very morning, a handful of the disciples had seen Jesus’ empty tomb, Mary Magdalene even claimed to have seen Jesus alive! The talk of resurrection was all about town, and the Jewish leaders were in a huff. They had killed Jesus to quiet the crowds. Now the talk was louder than ever. The disciples could only imagine what the Jewish leader’s next move would be. Imagine they probably did. They imagined crosses and stonings and all sort of torture and abuse. That is why the doors were locked and the prayers were fervent – for safety and deliverance from harm. 

Of course, if there is anything the gospel teaches us, it is that locked doors are no match for God.  To the disciples’ amazement Jesus shows up right in their midst. Remarkably, his appearing is not to assure them of their safety. He promises them peace, yes.  A second time, even, but the rest of his words reveal that the peace Jesus gives is not the absence of conflict but rather the deepest of assurances in the midst of the greatest of trials. For far from coming to rescue the disciples from danger, he shows up in that locked room in order to unlock the doors and send them into the dangerous world in order to carry on his mission of forgiveness and reconciliation: “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” In essence, he was filling their lives with purpose, and a life filled with purpose, whether we realize it or not, is never safe. It is, however, a life filled with God’s presence. Who of us could ask for more than that?

Those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it – Matthew 16:25.

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