We live in a society that is obsessed with safety. Kids now wear helmets when riding a bicycle. Sugar is viewed as poison. Grannies are practically strip searched by TSA, in case they are ISIS terrorists. Some churches even lock their doors at the start of worship!
Is all of this really necessary? Now, please don't misunderstand me. I am not advocating that we should be reckless or ignore danger. But should safety be our highest priority?
Too often the prayers of Christians are consumed with requests for protection, healing and safety. Listen to the requests shared in your group before prayer. Look at the average church prayer list. We are more safety-conscious than we realize.
Pastor Francis Chan said it this way, “We are consumed by safety. Obsessed with it, actually…we’ve made safety our highest priority. We’ve elevated safety to the neglect of whatever God’s best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world.”
I’m not suggesting that asking for God’s protection is wrong, just that it should not be our primary focus. The truth is that there are times in which believers will encounter hostility for their faith. There will be occasions when you will suffer for Christ (2 Timothy 3:12). God will not always protect us from harm. Gasp! I realize that such statements are not very comforting. This is especially difficult to hear when the health and prosperity preachers of our day tell you otherwise.
However, if we read the Bible (I know - that’s a radical idea), we will discover that standing for our faith is more important to God than our safety. In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested for preaching the gospel. The council threatened them with harm should they persist. Once released these apostles gathered with the church to pray. Notice what they prayed about. Honestly, this is probably not how you or I would have prayed. “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word” (Acts 4:29). Wow! They didn't ask for protection, but for boldness.
If you continue reading Acts, you will see that believers suffered many things as they stood for their faith. Peter and the other apostles were beaten for preaching (Acts 5). Stephen was stoned to death for his faith (Acts 7). Many church members were arrested because they were believers (Acts 8). According to tradition, all the apostles, except for John, were martyred. The history of the church is not a story of safety and comfort, but of persecution and endurance. As Pastor Perry Noble said, “Following Jesus doesn’t EVER lead to a safe, comfortable and predictable life…Jesus didn’t say if we wanted to follow Him that we needed to take up our mattress…but rather take up our cross!”
I do not ever pray that God allows danger into my life. Like you, I prefer comfort to pain, yet the example of believers in Scripture and throughout history compels me to seek boldness. However, when I consider what the saints in the past faced, and when I hear of the suffering of Christians in the present, I feel very convicted. Yes, it’s time to add boldness to our prayer list. Safety is great…it’s just not God’s priority… neither should it be ours.