Danger and the Church

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Jesus never promised us security. While there is a reward for following Christ, we are called to walk a dangerous path that has real implications for our lives. But where does the church fit in? How do the people of God together encourage each other to follow Jesus and not love their lives, even unto death?

Often I hear the church described as a place where believers should be safe. I understand what people mean when they say that, but I don’t know that Jesus meant what we mean when we say safe.  I think what we mean is that the church should be a place where people are loved despite their sin. This is true. We don’t want to become a house of Pharisees. But the New Testament church was also a place where those who lied to the apostles died and those who exercised their spiritual gifts where required to submit themselves to the judgment of others. In many of the ways we think about safety, it wasn’t safe.

I think a big part of the challenge is that our culture is obsessed with safety. We have safe spaces and talk about people “being safe.” In some ways, because our culture is not connected with the Gospel, they’ve begun to idolize safety and security over other virtues: love, courage, freedom, etc. In some places, the church has followed suit. This is sad because the church’s job is to disciple believers to love something beyond their own life. Each church we are part of has to become a place where we impart a love for Jesus that compels us to love Christ and others more than we love ourselves.

How do we do this?  A particular passage of the The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe has been helpful for me in this process.  In this passage, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver are telling Lucy, Susan, and Peter about Aslan, who serves as a type of Christ in the story:

“Is – is he a man?” asked Lucy
“Aslan a man!” said Mr. Beaver sternly. “Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don’t you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion, the Lion, the great Lion.”
“Ooh,” said Susan, “I thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“That you will, dearie, and make no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the king I tell you.

As the people of God, we help disciples embrace the danger associated with the Gospel by showing both the willingness to embrace risk for the Gospel and also embracing the goodness of God in the midst of danger. Jesus–who is always and forever good–has not only His Kingdom’s best intentions at heart when He sends asks us to do dangerous things, He has ours as well.

What we all need are followers of Jesus who model the trust in Jesus’ goodness, even when that trust could cost us our very lives. This kind of radical trust reproduces itself in the lives of disciples who witness it. It teaches us that there is a better Kingdom, even then the kind we enjoy in this life, that we are willing to trade this life for.  May we all learn how to say, with Shadrack, Meshak, and Abednego: “Our God is able to save us from the fire. But if He doesn’t, we will stand firm.”

Photo Credit: Danger! by Susanne Nilsson

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About traviskolder

Travis Kolder is a follower of Jesus, a husband, a father of five, an organic church planter, and a writer. He lives in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where he serves as part of the Cedar Rapids House Church Network.

One response to “Danger and the Church”

  1. gunnarlarmstrong says :

    This is very challenging what you are talking about. We don’t want to be challenged. Especially, we don’t want anyone thinking he has the right to challenge what we do or think or how we live or how we raise our children. That is a big part, I think, why our church life is based on meetings — so no one knows how we really live at home — because they might challenge us on what movies and TV shows we watch and books and magazines we read, and how we speak to our wives and how we treat our children. Likewise, at church, we don’t want to stick out our neck and respond to the Lord because somewhat might think we are wrong, or acting “spiritual” or be offended. We all struggle with these things, but if we don’t take risks in the church, we will never grow. Gunnar

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