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Is Safety an Idol?

  “Is it safe?” asks Lawrence Olivier to Dustin Hoffman in the 1976 movie, Marathon Man (see the clip here). Olivier plays the part of a Nazi war criminal trying to find out if he is being hunted.   But he asks a question that all of us ask throughout our lives. “Is …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
 
“Is it safe?” asks Lawrence Olivier to Dustin Hoffman in the 1976 movie, Marathon Man (see the clip here). Olivier plays the part of a Nazi war criminal trying to find out if he is being hunted.
 
But he asks a question that all of us ask throughout our lives. “Is it safe?” We want to know. We can’t help it – we are wired to look for safety.
 
This past week in Zambia, a thief broke into a World Race team compound. He attacked the guard with a machete. Matt Blair had flown in and was with the team. There was a scuffle and he suffered a deep gash in his head and needed surgery. 
 
Also this week, off the coast of Lesvos, Greece, a boat capsized. Racer Faith Craver reported, “Hundreds were thrown into the water. The coast guard couldn’t save them all…” 
 
Her Y squad is trying to bring safety to refugees living in fear and running for their lives. No, it is not safe for them. 
 
Betty Means wrote a blog that has connected in a deep way with hundreds of parents of racers entitled, “Has Safety Become an Idol?
 
Her observation is that many of us parents in America have indeed made safety an idol. But, as I often tell parents, “If we wanted our kids to be safe, we shouldn’t have introduced them to Jesus, a man who was considered a heretic and wild revolutionary. A man who died an ignominious death.”
 
It’s great to see the parents wrestle out loud with the subject (52 comments so far). No, it’s not safe for racers. Just ask the P squad. Team members were in a car accident in India. The squad then ministered in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake. And now, in Zambia, a thief in the night.
But our God takes these hard things and he brings growth. They are his raw materials. He takes dying things and brings life.
 
The mideast is turmoil. Death is in the air. And yet, on Lesvos and around the world, the Kingdom is advancing.
 
It’s what Jesus promised us. He said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
 
Consider this – if you are not experiencing trouble, if you are not experiencing deep testing, then perhaps you are irrelevant.
 
No, it’s not safe. Jesus is not safe. Neither does he want those of us who follow him to be safe. He said, “the kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” When my eyes snap open in the morning, he wants hell to say, “Oh no, he’s awake again!”
 
I love that we get to play a part in this great drama playing out on a global stage. It is awesome to bring hope and freedom to those who have lost theirs. It can be simultaneously awesome and terrifying.
 
Where are you on this issue? Has safety become an idol for you? Do you feel the same privilege and exhilaration in serving the King as he wages war on an enemy bent on stealing, killing and destroying?

Comments (12)

  • Seth, It’s so interesting that you posted this. Last night a missionary buddy from Budapest and I were talking about this exact topic as he and his family are right smack dab in the middle of the refugee crisis in Budapest. Thanks for sharing man! You always seem to speak right on the topics that strike a nerve in many of us. Then this morning in Psalm 112 I found this same topic. The writer had some powerful insights for us as believers on fear and safety. Love how you challenge us to deeper faith and deeper waters.

  • I love this line: When my eyes snap open in the morning, he wants hell to say, “Oh no, he’s awake again!” Such a great way to think about ourselves. False Gods are fascinating to me. Things we wouldn’t consider unless someone brings it to our attention. Like You! Thanks Seth!

  • Seth, every day that I am alive on the Race, I make it a point to thank God for you, and for the vision that He stewarded you all those years ago when He first brought up the idea of the Race. Thank you for believing that we can advance the Kingdom in extraordinary ways, for calling us higher, and for running into the danger instead of running away. It’s an honour to be on the journey with you.

    • And I thank God for you, Kayla – you are one of the Y squad members that encourage me the most. I have loved watching you go for it during your time on Lesvos!

  • The first time my daughter Mary left home to go on an AIM mission she sat me down and told me “if I die doing God’s will, it’s ok”. She was 16 yrs old. A few yrs later she was living in North Philly serving prostitues, addicts, homeless, etc. As we walked thru those extremely dangerous streets she was totally comfortable in what God had called her to do. Years later, still with AIM she was living in Swaziland among black mamba snakes and other dangerous and primitive elements. Again totally comfortable in God’s grace. As parents we must learn our kids belong to the Father and if they die on mission with Him—that is the highest honor ever bestowed on us as parents. We must live with a Biblical mindset and not a western “safe” attitude.

  • This is so good and so convicting. It’s easy to fall into safety’s embrace but it’s a false sense of security. Sometimes I need a wake up call to remember that He’s the only one who can actually hold us upright in a world gone mad. Thanks for sharing this, Seth!

    • Christin – Amen. I’m counting on you to be a key leader in bringing the good news of the kingdom to a world gone mad.

  • Wow! Now that is the most tremendous faith God is building into you!!!!! I’m inspired, moved, and encouraged big time!

  • Michael,

    Just read your reply, and in my heart rang out, “HE’S A DAD, A GOOD DAD”. My life is surrounded by 20 and 30 somethings, and I hear frequently, “Is it safe?” from their parents. So glad you get it!

  • I remember in Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”, the kids asked the Beaver if Aslan (God) was safe. His response is that He’s not safe but He’s good. Appropriate that and safety won’t be an issue.
    Great Blog. Thanks, Seth.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



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