Saturday, October 03, 2015

From Safety to Where?

Christian Mingle takes your safety very seriously. Good to know.

But we all take our safety seriously. Some of us are too immature, unwary or inexperienced to recognize potential dangers when we encounter them, but that’s more a matter of failing to apply a principle than failing to believe it. If you ask a group of average folk how important their safety is to them, you’ll find most answer “Very”.

Drug safety, food safety, bike helmets, pre-nuptial agreements, fine print, motorcycle leathers, sunscreen, shark cages, air bags, seatbelts, life preservers, parachutes, fire alarms, escapes and extinguishers … everybody wants to be safe. Nothing intrinsically wicked about that.

Except when you do it at someone else’s expense.

The prophet Habakkuk complained to God against the Chaldeans who were just about to overrun Judah as they had done so many other nations. He says they “march through the breadth of the earth, to seize dwellings not their own”. As it happens, the Chaldeans were being used by God to punish the sins of other nations, but as Habakkuk would come to understand, they were not exempt from punishment themselves.

What interests me here is the motivation of the Chaldeans. At their most caricatured, we’re used to seeing the Black Hats cackling madly on TV and in books and movies about world domination and the like. But the Chaldeans, it seems, were primarily interested in self-preservation. In this they were either surprisingly modern, or else concern for safety is a feature of every age in human history. The Chaldeans plundered nations and built towns and cities in the hope of making themselves immune to the predations of other nations. As the prophet says:
“Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house,
    to set his nest on high,
    to be safe from the reach of harm!”
Sounds suspiciously like the motivation attributed to the American government during the Bush years. Whether or not going into Iraq had anything to do with U.S. oil interests, enough people found the idea plausible that it was generally believed.

Because we all want to be safe. To have what we think we need. To be immunized from the fear of poverty or hardship.

Sadly, guaranteed personal safety is neither a realistic goal nor a Christian one.

God spoke to Baruch, Jeremiah’s faithful scribe, in a time of similar national distress and told him:
“Do you seek great things for yourself? Seek them not, for behold, I am bringing disaster upon all flesh, declares the Lord.”
More relevant to our situation as believers in the Lord Jesus, our Master spoke to Peter and said “Follow me”, right after showing him by what kind of death he was to glorify God.

Would that stop you cold? Me too.

It shouldn’t.

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