By Nik Ripken
Many of us are willing to do almost anything … as long as we can be sure that we’ll be safe. Safety, it seems, is one of the core values of our world.
But safety is not one of God’s core values. And safety simply cannot be one of the core values of God’s people.
In fact, if safety were our main consideration, then safety alone would determine what we would do and where we would go for the sake of the gospel. Our primary question would be: “Is it safe?”
We would find ourselves sharing our faith as long as it was safe.
We would consider sending out mission teams as long as it was safe.
We would be willing to consider a verbal witness with a neighbor as long as it was safe.
We would make financial decisions as individuals and as churches based on how safe those decisions were.
We would find ourselves asking over and over again: “Is this safe?”
One time we heard the leader of our mission sending organization say this: “Clearly, there is a sense in which the danger of our lives increases in proportion to the depth of our relationship with Christ.”
In other words, the closer we are to Jesus … the more danger we will face in our lives.
There is, of course, no wisdom at all in seeking danger for the sake of danger. At the same time, however, faithfulness to the commands of God holds more value than safety every time!
The people of God are called to faithful response whether it is safe or not. If we are faithful, we will go and we will send and we will share and we will speak and we will give and we will pray … even when it is not safe.
In our very first interviews in Russia, we heard about pastors and lay people who were imprisoned–and we heard about family members who disappeared into the Soviet Gulag never to be heard from again–because of their willingness to choose faithfulness over safety.
These followers of Jesus knew exactly how to avoid these severe punishments; they simply needed to be quiet. They simply needed to hide their friendship with Jesus.
They simply needed to stop telling others about Jesus. Had they made those choices, they would have enjoyed safety.
But even though it would have been expedient–and far safer–to compromise and withhold witness and deny their faith–these faithful followers of Jesus stood firm at great cost.
Psalm 125 promises a good ultimate outcome. But that good ultimate outcome is not immediate. We live in the meantime. And in the meantime . . . there is struggle and cost and, yes, danger.
We live in a time when walking faithfully with God will likely increase our suffering!
We live in a time when walking faithfully with God will likely decrease our safety!
For the people of God, though, until He returns, it will always be that kind of time. We understand that safety is not our goal.
It probably would have been safer for the children of Israel simply to remain in Egypt. It would have been safer for Moses to remain a shepherd. It would have been safer for Esther not to approach the king.
It would have been safer for Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to bow down to the idol. It would have been safer for Paul to avoid going to Jerusalem.
And it surely would have been safer for those Russian pastors to not take their faith so seriously.
Even more, it will probably be safer for you to not share your faith with your neighbor. It will be safer for your church to not send out mission teams.
It will be safer for you to not get on the plane. It will be safer to not let the world get under our skin.
It will be safer to gather for worship each Sunday and simply go through the motions. It will be safer to keep financial resources close to home.
That will all be safer … but it will not be faithful.
Safety is not one of God’s core values. And it is not a core value for God’s people either. Mirroring the character of God, God’s people value faithfulness and obedience.
And we consider it a holy privilege to do exactly what God has called us to do … even if it is not safe.
NIK RIPKEN (@NikRipken) and his wife, Ruth, have served as missionaries for more than 30 years, much of that time spent serving persecuted Christians. Excerpted from The Insanity of Sacrifice, Copyright © 2019 by Nik Ripken. Published by B&H Publishing Group.