When did we start expecting our missionaries to come back alive and unharmed?

The Idolatry of Safety

If you look back through church history you see this is a new expectation. Back in the day, the Christians who went out to preach the Gospel had already died (to themselves). They saw their lives as nothing.

The Moravians packed their luggage in coffins as they went out to the nations of the earth. Sometimes they even sold themselves into slavery to reach “unreachable” slaves. They didnt expect to come back. They expected to change lives.

Do we as modern Christians not trust our King to keep us safe, until He sees fit to bring glory to His name through our passing?

Or do we bow to a different throne?

Both the early church and the modern Chinese church pray not for safety when they send their missionaries out. They pray instead for boldness. This prayer represents a different value system. The early church considered the martyrs crown a badge of honor. Why do we try to avoid it at all costs?

Living a dangerous life does not make you more righteous. Danger and risk are foolish goals. But, making safety a goal is idolatry. The only goal for Christians is Christ and His Kingdom.

Those who change the world for Christ take risks. They act in ways the world and the lukewarm church may consider reckless. But they change lives while those watching from the sidelines wonder why God isn’t moving.

There is an old word for this idolatry we don’t use much any more. The word is cowardice. Cowards idolize safety. Heroes are those who do what is dangerous despite their fear to help others.

I have been taking teams to the bar district in Austin for nearly four years. When I invite people to come they almost always ask, “Is it safe?” Normally, I explain how no one I have taken has ever been hurt or robbed. But inside I want to shout, “Why does it matter? Is the point of Christianity not to bring glory to God by shining His light in the darkness? We must go to dark places to shine His Light there. These people are dying! Do you only care about your own safety?”

Of course I don’t say that. I just bottle up my frustration and smile hoping they will come anyway. Sometimes they do. But only because I convince them it’s safe.

What are we living for? Which Kingdom are we trying to build? Our bodies will pass away. The Kingdom lasts forever. Why not pour out our lives for the Kingdom?

I know not what course others may take. But as for me, I would rather live a short life devoted to my King than a long one filled with the lukewarm pursuit of safety.

What do you think? Do you make safety an idol? Have I gone to far? Leave me a comment and let me know what you think.