“God, keep us safe.”
How often is this our prayer? Every week our elders pray with people after our worship gathering and most of the prayer requests are along these lines. We pray for safety, security and health. Now I know that God cares about us and cares for our well-being. I think it honors and delights God when we prioritize prayer in all situations. But lately I’ve been learning a new prayer.
At Tsawwassen Alliance we’ve been working through the book of Ezekiel in our weekly preaching time. The God of Ezekiel is anything but safe. Like a bounding lion He is beautiful, awesome, powerful, and even dangerous. He is holy, sovereign, and glorious. An encounter with the Living God is not a safe and comfortable venture. We are re-learning who God is. He’s a big God who calls us into his big mission. He’s a holy God and he calls us to worship him with awe and wonder.
And yet most of the time our worship gatherings and personal devotions are rather routine, predictable and safe. We want our churches to be a “safe place.” Christian radio prides itself on being “safe for the whole family.” We view the world as dangerous and Christianity as a safe haven. But what if God doesn’t want us to be “safe”?
In basically every one of Paul’s letters he opens with a prayer for the recipients. And though each of these churches faced challenges of varying kinds, both internal and external, we don’t ever see Paul praying for a change in their circumstances. We simply don’t ever see Paul praying for safety. Instead, his typical prayer is for the churches to know God and his power in a more significant way.
See I think we are looking at everything backwards. With the gospel on my lips and Jesus on my side, I’m not in danger, I’m dangerous. I don’t have to fear the world, the world should fear me.
I recently travelled on a ministry trip to a country that is fairly closed to the gospel. As I passed through the different layers of security and customs, I was a bit nervous about passing through without revealing the true intentions of my travel. But while country officials screened me and my luggage for weapons and dangerous items, they naively missed the most dangerous thing I was bringing into their country. With the gospel on my lips and the Bible in my hand, I was far more dangerous than anything they were screening me for.
I’m trying to learn what it means to live dangerously. To follow and proclaim Jesus without caution. This doesn’t mean foolish abandon. I didn’t stand and proclaim all my plans and intentions at security. I was careful not to expose our work to unwanted attention. But it does mean following Jesus with boldness and prioritizing the mission of God over my safety and comfort.
Many people know the story of how Jim Elliot and his companions were killed bringing the gospel to the Waodoni people of Ecuador. At TAC we’re learning to pray like Jim Elliot. Mourning the ordinariness of modern Christians who lack boldness and power, Elliot once cried out, “Oh that God would make us dangerous!”
May it be.