Awhile back I visited a mini conference in the Los Angeles area with Gary Haugen as the speaker. Gary Haugen is founder and president of International Justice Mission, a DC based organization that works in a number of countries to combat slavery and ultimately wipe it out completely.
Immediately following the quote above, Gary said, “We are called to help rescue people.” I agree with Gary. As I continue to seek in the Bible what God would have of me in this life, I am more and more convinced that it is the work of justice. In fact, God doesn’t even want my offering and worship to him if I’m not obeying his commands to care and serve those in need. Read Isaiah 58 and you'll see what I mean.
So then what keeps us from taking passages like Isaiah 58 and Micah 6:8 and Amos 5:21-24 seriously? FEAR. Ugh!
Gary then threw out a doozie. He said, “Do you want to be brave or do you want to be safe because you can’t be both.” Personally I was really hoping I could be both and that way I could choose when I felt it was ‘safe’ to be brave and when it wasn’t. Gary also said, “there’s nothing more unattractive than a coward.” Crap. That’s true too. We exalt courageousness so really there isn’t room to be a coward in our society.
Take Shadrach Meshach and Abednego for example. Now they were definitely brave and I’m sure the ladies were lining up to bat their eyes at them after they escaped some serious flames. They were brave. But to be brave, they had to choose not to be safe. God wants us to choose not to be safe and to be brave.
Gary also said, that “doing the will of God in a fallen world is inherently dangerous.” Actually, Jesus said we will suffer because we follow him. Suffering is not God’s will. But in a fallen world, suffering is part of our lives. See 1 Peter 3: 13-17.
There are two things that are always God’s will and always dangerous. Gary said they are telling the truth and loving people. Loving people in need is exactly what Jesus was all about. Loving people is dangerous work and it’s hard work. 1 John talks about how we can’t love God who we can’t see if we can’t love the people we see all the time face to face. Loving needy people will make us feel uncomfortable, yet Jesus says our joy is found when we do love needy people. We’re called to do what’s not safe because that’s what’s needed.
Why is it so hard for us to live in the uncomfortable and love the needy? Gary thinks it’s because our society values success and education to look smart. He said, “choosing brave over smart will be threatening to those who choose smart over brave.” Serving the poor doesn’t look smart or successful. Frankly, rescuing victims of slavery will never look successful in our society. But it is significant to our Heavenly Father. Gary asked us if we “seek success or significance.” Luke 9:24 pretty much sums this up in a few words.
What keeps you from being brave? Gary said there are four things that keep people from being brave.
So what would it look like to replace these four things with four others that reflect being brave? They might look something like this:
Who doesn’t want those four things?!
The problem is we can’t have the first four and the last four together. We actually have to choose to let go of the first four and only then we can have the last four.
But really, how we can really do this when we have jobs, families, responsibilities, etc?
We could do less. Yea you read that right. We could do less and spend more time reading scripture, taking the time to reflect on it and pray a lot more. Reflect on the life we are living and where we are heading.
We could also search the promises of scripture and take a risk. Take Christ at his word and see if he’s being true. Is God trustworthy or not? Live lives that reflect that scripture is actually true.
We could embark on a lifelong journey of spiritual formation and renovation of the heart. We are called to train to be brave.
So what do you think? Do you want to be safe or do you want to be brave?
From Chronicles of Narnia: Lucy (asking about Aslan), “Is he safe?” “No, but he is good.”