Going To Unsafe Places…
There is a desire in the church that has absolutely crippled the effectiveness that God showed us in possible in the book of Acts. It’s a desire that, on the surface, can seem both “spiritual” and correct; however, this desire has done nothing more than render what should be the most powerful group of people in the world impotent.
It’s the desire to play it safe.
Safety is becoming more and more of an issue in our society. Children’s toys come with warning labels. We pay attention to safety standards on automobiles. Heck, when I was growing up NO ONE wore their seatbelts…now it is almost considered “immoral” if you don’t.
AND…there is NOTHING wrong with a desire for personal safety. It does make me feel better that my car has an airbag and Charisse’s crib hasn’t been covered in lead based paint.
However, that desire for safety somehow crept into the church and turned what God meant to be an unstoppable force that was designed to change the world into a group of people who are passionate about business meetings, legislating morality and getting out of the worship service on time.
This REALLY hit me right between the eyes on my trip to LA this week. On Sunday night Jason and I decided to cruise to downtown LA and see Erwin McManus teach at the venue that meets in a bar.
It was about a 45 minute trip from the hotel we were staying in and the drive, for the first 35 minutes, was pretty cool. (I have NO RIGHT to ever complain about traffic on Clemson Boulevard again!)
However, everything changed when we got off the exit number the GPS lady instructed us to take. No longer were we “taking in the LA sunset,” but rather we were making sure the doors were locked. To my right were a couple of prostitutes standing on the street corner. About a block past them were two homeless men setting up a tent. Right after that I saw a man going through the trash cans, searching for something to eat.
I felt unsafe—very unsafe…and vulnerable. I have heard stories about car jackings and random shootings…but all of a sudden I was in an environment where THAT could have been a reality. I almost said to Jason, “Maybe we should NOT go here.”
Then God hit me right between the eyes…the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart in one of the most real ways I’ve ever experienced. It was undeniable AND convicting – “Hey Perry, THIS is exactly where I want MY church—in unsafe places, around unsafe people. I didn’t come to call the righteous to repentance…but the sick.”
It was in that moment that I realized that if I want to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ then I must abandon my desire for safety. I must adopt what Paul said in Acts 20:24, that I consider my life worth nothing to me. And in pursuing this I must be willing to go and do WHATEVER He asks of me—no matter how it makes me feel.
NewSpring – we have NOT been called to play it safe. God is NOT glorified when our biggest accomplishments are a 3% increase in the yearly budget, some new choir robes and repainting the restrooms. He is glorified when a church is willing to say, “God, whatever You want – whenever You want it – just let us know and we will go, no matter how crazy or unsafe the idea may seem—we’re in!”
I have no idea what God is preparing us for—but 2008 is going to be off the chain. I really feel as if we are going to be asked by Him to take some risks, to go to some unsafe places and do ministry on a level in which we’ve never seen. I am both nervous and excited about it and can’t wait to see the next step in the way He is leading.
Jason and I went to Erwin’s church and had an outstanding time. We saw people in there who would NEVER darken the doors of a “normal” church – but in that environment, the one where I felt unsafe—they felt safe. They heard the Scriptures taught, they heard the message of Jesus Christ. And they were introduced to the concept of community.
These were people who may not have been accepted in a church that simply desired to play it safe…but because there was one that wasn’t concerned about “what they looked like,” people are meeting Christ!
This is what God has called the church to be – unsafe—willing—passionate—and READY! What is Your call Lord? What is Your direction? We will go! NewSpring is becoming more and more convinced that You are ABLE to do the book of Acts all over again and we are ready—lead us to unsafe places!”