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Regaining a Theology of Danger

Sunday at the local church. Four policemen wandered the campus during the Sunday morning service. They were there just to keep people inside safe. I thought about it, and it flipped a switch inside me. We avoid risk. We plan. We prepare. We hire security guards. But we are missing the p…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

Sunday at the local church. Four policemen wandered the campus during the Sunday morning service. They were there just to keep people inside safe. I thought about it, and it flipped a switch inside me.

We avoid risk. We plan. We prepare. We hire security guards.

But we are missing the point.

Jesus was dangerous.

After being baptized and launching his ministry, he immediately took on the local authorities. In their first meeting, they recognized him as a threat and tried to kill him.  Maybe he met this danger each time he entered a new village. I wonder if maybe it’s one reason he kept moving.

Jesus told us the danger didn’t stop with him. As he spoke to his disciples, he made it clear that in this world they would know hardship. In their efforts to love, they would upset apple carts and make enemies.

Here in America, we introduce him as meek and mild. But when he crashed and thundered across the Palestinian landscape, he was nothing if not a threat to the status quo.  And he knew the status quo had to be destroyed to bring true freedom and safety.

Danger occurs when something you value is put at risk.

Over the last hundred years, as our standard of living has increased, we’ve begun to overvalue comfort and convenience. Our willingness to risk has plummeted.

Furthermore, we have lost our theology of danger. Most of our theologians have little experience with danger. They’ve become armchair philosophers delving into interpretations from the safety of their desks. We need more people like Martin Luther who was willing to put his life and reputation at risk to help the body of Christ course correct. We need people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer willing to give his life for the gospel. We need people like Saeed Abedini willing to face the death penalty to follow Jesus.

As Jesus showed, the problem is that without risking our comfort and security, we can’t experience the abundant life he promised. We have to die to our small dreams to lay hold of his big dreams. It was a dangerous thing to teach that our only safety is in him.

We cannot escape danger if we are to fulfill our purpose on earth.

When we trust God enough that we’re willing to embrace risk, he loves it. “Without faith it is impossible to please him,” is how the Bible puts it (Heb. 11:6). The price of freedom is to dare to become dangerous as well.

God doesn't call us to run out on major commitments or to abandon our families for frivolity. He doesn't call us to irresponsible risks. But he does call us to put nothing or no one else before him. And he calls us to step out of our small comforts to live his big story.

As we are freed, so God intends for us to go free others. It’s the life Jesus modeled and it’s the life he has always called his disciples to. Jesus threw his disciples into the deep end. He sent them out with no backpacks or money.  And he wants to do the same for us.

What are you willing to put at risk in order to follow him?

Comments (14)

  • This confirms what I heard this weekend. Jesus had the fullness of the Spirit. Why is the church looking to have balance. Jesus said He will send His Spirit not the balance of His Spirit. He said He will pour out His Spirit not the balance of His Spirit. God gives all He has, not the balance of what He has.We need to give all! Thank you for the blessing!

  • Amen Seth. I am right there with you. “Comfortable Christianity” is an oxymoron like “jumbo shrimp”.

    Blessings friend.

  • Continue to provoke us to live higher. Vulnerable before Him and others. Thank you for the journey!!!

  • Amen. Well, you’re getting Moriah back in a few hours. She ought to keep you on your toes! Thanks for loaning her to us.

  • Amen! Love it Seth!

    They triumphed over him
    by the blood of the Lamb
    and by the word of their testimony;
    ***they did not love their lives so much
    as to shrink from death.***

    Rev 12:11

  • Every effort we make to follow Jesus without our cross, crosses out the challenges danger presents and the promised victories along the narrow path. Our maturity and His glory are anchored there. It’s tough and He didn’t hide that reality from us.

    Thanks Dad for the reminder.

  • Its our entire culture. Helmet’s, knee/elbow pads, seat belts, signs telling us what common sense should…Is it any wonder there are so many idiots competing in “X-games” type sports? It is dangerous and exciting.

    If the church pursued Christ as it should, we wouldn’t have to go looking for thrills elsewhere, we would have more than we could handle.

  • Seth,

    I especially enjoyed this. I’ve been in New York for two days and encounter the same risk here as I did on the race. It’s a great wake up. I’ve missed a few risks here back in the states. Little prompts by the Holy Spirit to say something.

    How can I find abundant life from John 10:10. Be intentional in making room for Jesus to show up by taking risks.

    Thanks Seth

  • Hi Bryan. Go for it man and be willing to look like a fool. Keep living and pursuing the dream. Bless you man.

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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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