Wednesday, May 17, 2017

God's Universe is a Perfectly Safe Place For Us to Be

There are many ways to describe the gospel: Jesus died for our sins; God so loved the world he gave his only son; Jesus gives us salvation... just to name a few. Dallas Willard has given us one of the best ways to put the gospel: "God's universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be."

That's a provocative statement because the world is a place of many terrors and there are so many things are out there to be afraid of. Society has placed upon us a supersaturation of fear and foreboding. Wake up in the morning and go ahead and pick your fear for the day: global warming, job loss, immigration, Islamic fundamentalism, drug addictions, crime, processed foods, school shootings, illness, the collapse of capitalism, political stalemates, nuclear war, zombie apocalypse... to name just a few.

My kids' high school became a focus for societal anxiety the past few days. No longer are fire drills and tornado drills enough for the modern educational institution, students now prepare for what they need to do in case an active shooter invades the school. So four days ago their entire high school underwent such training. Don't hide under tables or inside closets, instead grab a weapon and cause chaos to foil the shooter's plans. Okay, fine, now they're ready.

Was it a surprise when two days later, a note was found in the school computer lab threatening just such an attack? Police were called in, and parents were informed of this note, as the school responsibly communicated this information.

Guess what happened today? No, thank goodness, it was not an attack, but there was a great portion of the student body missing. Teachers could not instruct their students because of the low attendance and therefore students lost a day to help them prepare for next week's finals. I suppose everyone was safe in their homes, and since no one got hurt, all is fine. But I will not be convinced that all's well that ends well when fear is allowed to control us. What's tomorrow going to bring?

This is why I love this description of the gospel: "God's universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be." This truly is the message and model of Jesus. Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8). God is light and in him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1). Why do you worry about your life (Matthew 6)? Most Christians would be able to give the right answer that faith in Jesus frees us from worry, but at the same time most Christians don't live out this right answer as if they actually believe it.

What would it look like if Christians actually believed they didn't have to worry about their life, or what they eat, or what they wear?

What would it look like if followers of Jesus actually believed that neither death, nor life, nor things present, nor things to come could separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord?

What would it look like if children of God lived in the light, instead of the darkness, and faced the chronic anxiety of the world with courage instead of fear?

I sang a great little song with a group of preschoolers this morning called "This Little Light of Mine." You know how it goes: "I'm gonna let it shine." What would it look like to let your light shine in the face of the real anxieties found in your life, your family, your community and your world?

The great thing about a living faith is that when you do let your life shine in very real situations with compassion and mercy, it makes a difference. Even one little flame can bring light to a darkened room. There will be pressures to poof it out. You will struggle internally to panic and hide and join in on the chronic anxiety... but love for Jesus will bring you inner strength to throw that bushel away.

God's universe is a perfectly safe place for us to be. The world's violence, cancers, struggles, and injustices hurt us deeply, but they are not the only reality we are part of. We are children of God, united to Christ through the cross. We shall certainly be raised in a resurrection like his (Romans 6). Face anxiety with courage and let your light shine. It will make a difference.

My kids learned a powerful lesson the past few days... I'm so proud that they have stood with courage. Christ was with them.

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