"…to the praise of the glory of His grace…" Ephesians 1:6

Church – a safe place???

            My wife called my attention to a couple of advertisements by churches for “Easter” (Resurrection Day) that invited people to come to their particular church and then emphasized that it was a “safe place for your family.”

Is safety really an issue in deciding where you should go to church?

Pastor Andrew shared with me a story this week from a book he is reading about a church in China. These believers were choosing to meet in a home where there was active tuberculosis because the authorities wouldn’t raid it. It was actually safer than meeting somewhere else. Obviously, it wasn’t nearly as safe as not meeting or as meeting in a state run church.

When I think about reasons to invite people to come to Springs of Grace, the church being a “safe place” hasn’t been on my list. I hope Springs is “safe” in the sense that it is a place where you will hear the truth and see God’s people demonstrating love to the least of these. I hope Springs is “safe” because what unites us is not the color of our skin or the size of our homes or the amount of money in our pockets but our shared conviction that Christ is everything. It’s a safe place because you’ll be told about the greatness of God and the foolishness of living for anything other than Him and His purposes. It’s a safe place because you will be reminded that God is good all the time to those who are His own and remembering that will keep you from falling into temptation. It’s a safe place because at Springs of Grace we remind each other that life isn’t about us or about right now but it is about living for God, loving others and looking towards heaven. Remembering that will keep you from the danger of wasting your life on yourself. Springs of Grace is a safe place because you can hear about a Savior who took upon Himself the full fury of God’s wrath that your sin deserved and bore it on a cross and then rose from the dead. Believing that will keep you safe from hell.

So perhaps that’s what these churches on the radio mean when they say “they are a safe place for your family.” I hope so.

But if by “safe” they mean free from risk (which is how Webster’s dictionary defines the word) then they are missing what the church is about. God calls us to take risks for His kingdom. Esther did (Esther 4:16). Shadrack, Meshack, and Abednego did (Daniel 3:17-18). Thomas and the disciples did (John 11:16). The early church did (Acts 2:45; 4:19-21,32). The Apostle Paul did (Acts 14:19-20; 1 Thess. 2:8). Believers in most of the world still do and so should we.

We ought to risk our safety in order to love others who are not exactly like us. We ought to risk not having enough money in the bank for a future emergency in order to help those who are experiencing the emergency of doing without right now. We ought to risk the safety of privacy to share our needs with one another and confess our sins to one another and bear one another’s burdens. We ought to risk our safety in order to see the glory of God advanced and His Son treasured.

I’m glad I go to a church that is safe and not safe – may it be more so in the right ways to the glory of God.