I have family and friends who have ventured beyond the safe confines of their Christian environments; they have edged into a world that is bigger and harder and scarier than anything they’ve experienced before. When a Christian sits down for food and conversation with someone of a different religion, snuggles the babies of troubled teenage mothers, plays street basketball with fatherless kids, squats around the cooking fire of a jungle tribe that has no Bible in their language, seeks to bring God into the mundane…inevitably that Christian feels his neat world imploding.
Missional metamorphosis brings feelings of being both prepared and unprepared. If we’ve grown up in a cocoon of godliness, we have wings to touch a broken world. Yet, some of us don’t have much practice, and being active in God’s kingdom is not safe. Oh no! It’s complicated, painful, and excruciatingly wonderful. But not safe.
Often I hear fears bouncing around the room when someone talks of one of God’s adventurers. “What are they going to do for a living if they move there?” “Who will they be friends with?” “Aren’t they going a little off their rocker to associate with those people?” “Isn’t the world going to have a bad influence on them?” And most of all, “What about their children?!”
That brings me to the question: who keeps us? Am I responsible for the well-being of my family, of myself? Am I the one who guides and provides? Do I have the wisdom to determine what is truly best for my family? Or maybe I am not the one responsible, but my Christian community?
Notice this verse in John. Jesus is praying to the Father about His followers:
I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.
John 17:15 (ESV)
The Father keeps us from Satan’s grasp! Here it is again, in the Lord’s Prayer.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen
Matthew 6:13 (ESV)
The Father does not take us out of the world, but he delivers us from evil. He owns the kingdom; He has the power!
How can we have a positive influence on the world if we cower in fear? We might not think we are so afraid, but if we never venture out of our holy huddle perhaps we need to ask ourselves some hard questions. Who or what are we trusting?
We are not big enough to make life safe for ourselves. Religious systems can’t make life safe for us, either. But God is strong enough to protect us when Satan attacks. God provides ALL of our needs. God’s heart is large enough to care for our children–yes, He loves them even more than we do.
What would happen if we would discard fickle human conniving, plunge into the world’s neediness, and lean on the Lord to see us through?
I believe we would find our feet on the firm ground of our Father’s good keeping.