" I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NIV).
This morning on the Christian radio station I usually listen to, a local pastor of the "church of the week" talked about the nature of the church. He said the teens from his congregation had written essays about the church, and every one of them used the word safe in their description. The pastor went on to say that this is an accurate portrayal of the church.
What do you think? Does safe describe the heart of Christ's church?
Safe or Dangerous?
Perhaps it is a matter of perspective. We do want people to feel like the church, and every small group within the church, is a safe place. They will be accepted for who they are and where they are in life. They will not be attacked or abused.
On the other hand, God's Word portrays a church that is dangerous. It is in a war for the eternal destinies of humankind. It is a place of extreme sacrifice, persecution, and suffering. Peace comes in the midst of all this, as we put our trust in Christ. We are eternally safe because of His suffering, but we are on the front lines of a battle every day.
I think that is the gist of what Jesus was trying to teach His followers in Matthew 10, when He sent out the 12 for ministry. He told them, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34, NIV).
That does not sound very "safe" to me. It has always fascinated me that here Jesus says He did not come to bring peace, and yet, over and over again in the gospels, He does bring peace: He is the Prince of Peace. He often told people, "Peace be with you" and "Go in peace." ...