By James Losey
In today’s culture we want God to be safe. Have you ever heard someone say, “My God wouldn’t do that”? This thought doesn’t just plague the culture but it plagues our churches. In doing so we open up to the temptation of giving into sinful cultural norms in fear of rejection. We have made a false idol out of who we want God to be, verses who He is. We trade the true God of the bible for a user-friendly Jesus that tolerates our sins and makes use feel good about ourselves.
Matt Chandler writes in his book The Explicit Gospel, “More often than not, we want him (God) to have fairy wings and spread fairy dust and shine like a precious little star, dispensing nothing but good times on everyone, like some kind of hybrid of Tinker Bell and Aladdin’s Genie. But the God of the Bible, this God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, is a pillar of fire and a column of smoke.”
The Christian life is tough and that goes against our very sinful nature and culture. We are always looking for some self-help program, method, and technique to bring us comfort and success. We will do anything to make our life safe and conflict free while avoiding everything God is doing to make us holy.
C.S. Lewis writes in God in the Dock, “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
If we base our Christian walk and ministry on a cultural standard of success and happiness, we miss the heart of the gospel and we miss the full power of the Holy Spirit in our life. Sometimes the work of the Holy Spirit may not seem “EPIC” in the sight of the world and that’s okay. The Spirit is transforming us into the image of Christ. That alone is worth rejoicing over. We also have to remember to put our hope in His word and His word tells us that life isn’t easy but God is still sovereign and will get us through those tough times.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me.’ ” – Matthew 16:24
“More than that, we rejoice in our suffering, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” – Romans 5:3-5
In a culture hostile towards the gospel, the last thing we need to be doing is giving into sinful cultural norms in order to have a safe and easy life. Taking an easy path will only give us a shortcut to destruction.
In C.S. Lewis’s classic, “Chronicles of Narnia,” Susan asks if Aslan, the lion (The Christ-figure in the book) is safe? Mr. Beaver responds with: “Safe? Who said anything about being safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
This is a great reminder that the Christian life is not a Sunday school playground but a battlefield. The beauty of this battlefield is that He calls us to repentance and equips us with everything we need in His word, so we can live out the gospel and be a light to the world. That’s the beauty of it all. We don’t have to do it on our own. Christ has won the battle, not for our glory but for His alone. The Lord of the universe is on His throne working all things out to completion for your good and His glory. Rest in God’s sovereignty with joy in hardships. He’s transforming you into the image of His Son.
“The center of Christianity and the center of pastoral life is the dishonorable, foolish, gruesome, and utterly glorious reality of the tortured God-Man, Jesus Christ. More and more, He must become the issue. Not a vague, comfortable, pleasant Jesus that everybody likes but the one who is a “stumbling block” to Jews and “foolishness” to Gentiles. The closer you get to what makes Christianity ghastly, the closer you get to what makes it glorious.”- John Piper, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals