FEAR has run rampant on my Facebook feed over the last few weeks. Fear about what could be, what has been. It’s awful. The bombings, the police brutality, the atrocities of war– these things we humans do to each other.
And while I won’t claim expertise on politics or refugees or global crisis, I reckon I can comment on what I’ve personally learned — especially over the course of the last 6 years, living overseas with small children, sending my husband into seedy places run by mafia systems, entering some amount of danger on behalf of the vulnerable.
Perhaps most obviously, I’ve learned that safety is an illusion at best. We had a bomb here in Asia several months ago and there are strange viruses and the trafficking of humans across borders, but my brothers and sisters on “safe” American soil have had school shootings and race-riots and brutal murders that make my stomach turn. Truly, is anywhere really safe? The world we live in is an increasingly violent, dangerous one. This is just true. While wisdom is important and mitigating risk just plain smart (obviously), the idea of physical safety is really, truly, at its very best, an illusion.
But at its worst? At worst the idea of safety and comfort is an excuse not to enter into the darkness on behalf of another human being. At it’s worst, safety is a false god we bow to and sacrifice on its altar love and kindness and generosity. At it’s worst, safety keeps us inside: our pretty church walls, the groups we understand or which like us back, the box we’ve made for God to squeeze in.
Is risking personal safety on behalf of another scary as hell? Absolutely it is. Matt’s been in situations that still give him nightmares. I’ve gotten texts from him that spike my heart rate and start me envisioning early widowhood. We have contingency plans for getting the family out of the country, if we need to, for heaven’s sake.
The fall out of trying to sit with the abused in the darkness and actually help them is costly on a million different levels. YES. The fear of what could happen is a snarling dog consistently nipping at my heels. Absolutely.
But, isn’t that willingness to risk comfort and safety elemental qualities of the cross-life, which was modeled for us and to which we were called into in the first place? Stick your heads in the sand if you want (actually, please don’t) but this is a Normandy beach, friends. The world is at war, and if people that claim to follow Jesus aren’t willing to (yes I say this literally) lay down their lives or at least some amount of “safety” on behalf of the Kingdom, on behalf of the most, most vulnerable, then we. have. missed. it.
I fear we as Christians have become a Frodo spinning a ring on his finger, but refusing to leave the Shire.
And yes, soldiers get bloody. And tired. And they risk. They slay dragons, and they get stabbed in the back. And sometimes, they do die.
But this is the life Jesus actually lived, after all. “Take up your cross, deny yourself, follow Me”; not “take up your safety, fight for self-preservation, follow public opinion.”
The world will know who we belong to, who we follow, by our love, after all. And “there is no greater love than laying down a life for a friend.” And whether that’s the foster kid or the orphan, the trafficked girl or the homeless man, the families in the rougher neighborhood, the person who doesn’t hold your theology or your country’s passport, or the refugee, a love that sacrifices, that actually costs us something is what we fight for. And this is the love that looms larger than the fear.