It’s no secret that we are in a time of great pain, fear, and division. The world seems shaky and hopeless, and the right choice is not always clear. As the church, we are having to decide what walking out the truth looks like, and it is not an easy task. There is no clear-cut answer to all of it, and if we aren’t careful, that can cause us to become fearful and silent. I want to be a person who is bold to speak the truth, but I also want to stay “safe.” I know I’m not the only one.
No matter how many times I’ve read the gospel, I always forget how hunted and judged the perfect Son was. Throughout much of John, the religious people are furious because Jesus dared to heal a man on the Sabbath. Let that sink in. He healed a man after 38 years of pain, and the focus was on the rules, rather than the miracle.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many times I can see myself in the villains of Bible stories. I think it is healthy and humbling to remember that without Jesus, we are no better than them. Sometimes I am as proud and full of comparison as Herod. Sometimes I refuse to take a stand for Christ, just like Pontius Pilate. To be honest, though, I was a little baffled by how to relate to these Pharisees at first. How could these people be so angry that the Son of God broke their rules by healing the hurting? How could they be so worried about God’s Sabbath that they missed God himself?
We have a need to confine God’s power and purposes to something we can understand.
Then it hit me. We all want a tame Jesus; a safe Jesus that fits into our ideas and guidelines and schedules. We don’t want him to heal on Sabbath, because then we can’t reduce his ways to a formula. We have a need to confine God’s power and purposes to something we can understand. We want our life changed on a day we think is appropriate, in a time that we find polite. The Jews spent hundreds of years praying for a Messiah miracle, and then missed it when he came. That, my friend, is why I can be a Pharisee. How many times do we miss out on our healing, our miracle, our answer, because we have restricted in our hearts what God can do? How many times have we refused to follow him because he isn’t operating inside our box?
There is a quote I love by C.S. Lewis. When the children first find out that Aslan is a lion, they ask if he is safe. Most of us would too! But I love the response: “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” The true believer cannot try to boil the movement of an eternal, matchless God down to a formula to understand. Wisdom knows that understanding comes from following the King’s rules instead of making our own for him. This is why we are commanded, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5, NLT). Our own understanding can lead to missing the miracle. Our own safety can become our idol. Our own comfort can distract us from where the Lion is heading. A real citizen of the Kingdom trusts in his Lord more than his own ideas.
God isn’t safe. He doesn’t fit into our speculations. I can’t make that an easy truth, and I will not try to. Easy things are rarely valuable. The reality is that He has been wild when you have been timid, and He is profoundly present in every moment of your life. When we commit to follow Jesus, we commit to getting out of the boat, to standing up for the voiceless, to valuing the least of these, and to actively being his hands and feet. It won’t be safe. It won’t be comfortable. Bringing healing to the hurting may not always be the “religious” thing to do. But in the risk and in stepping out, we will see the face of God. I think we will find that following the Lion is more valuable than playing it safe. I want to do things the hard way, the right way. The safe way is not where you meet with Jesus.
- How often do you hear God calling you out of your comfort zone? How often are you willing to go?