No, I’m not an idiot. I meant to write “Safing Faith” not “Saving Faith.”
“Safing Faith” is a word I invented to define the attempt by some Churches and Christians to make faith safe.
I believe in “Saving Faith”, but I am opposed to any human attempts to make faith in God “Safe.”
There is a famous scene in “The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. In the scene, the young girl Lucy learns that the king they are waiting for whose name is Aslan, is in fact a full grown lion. She asks if he is safe to which Mr. Beaver replies, “Safe, no he’s not safe, but he’s good”.
God is definitely good, but He is not safe.
In Deuteronomy 4:24 we read: For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
A consuming fire is not “safe.”
A consuming fire is not controllable.
A consuming fire is not manageable.
A consuming fire is not predictable.
A consuming fire must be respected.
A consuming fire does not submit to our plans. It does not stop. It does not fade away. It takes what it wants and leaves when it is finished.
It can not be put out with our words, our opinions, our criticisms, or be extinguished with the waving of our bulletins containing our well-planned worship services.
Our God is a consuming fire and He is not safe!
God–THE consuming fire– will not be contained. He is powerful and our attempts to make our church services and spiritual lives safe are laughable.
I don’t want to be safe! I want to be faithful.
I want to build an ark, lay my all on the altar, tell Pharaoh what to do, walk around the walled city, face the giant, square off against the prophets of Baal, get out of the boat, and even stand face-to-face with a hungry lion if that’s what God calls me to do. I don’t want a safing faith; I want a saving faith.
As far as I’m concerned safing faith is for wimps!
Here’s what a “Safing Faith” looks like in Christians:
- Never sharing your faith
- Having no non-Christian friends
- Never singing too loud
- Never opening up to other Christians
- Never praying in public
- Sitting in the boat when given the chance to tread the waves
- Giving 10%
- Never crying in front of your church or small group
- Never expressing doubts
- Never opening a Bible in private
- Never carrying a Bible in public
- Depending exclusively on life-style evangelism (i.e. never speaking about Jesus)
- Praying sporadically and only for wants
- Sitting while singing “Stand up, Stand up, for Jesus”
- Tolerating a lack 0f ethnic diversity in your church
- Criticizing the preacher when his message makes you uncomfortable
- Going to church instead of being the Church
- Making fun of homosexuals instead of eating with them
- Not clapping after a baptism
- Criticizing enthusiastic faith in young people and new converts
- Never going on a mission trip
- Talking about what God can do and what you’ll do for God, but then doing nothing when God gives you the opportunity to do something for him
- Fear induced paralysis in moments requiring a step of faith
Here’s what a “Safing Faith” looks like in Churches:
- Plenty of available seating and parking spaces
- Passion for the By-laws.
- Long board meetings. Short prayer meetings.
- No prayer at leadership meetings. No leaders at prayer meetings.
- All steps of faith must be approved by a congregational vote of at least 70%.
- Saving seats is preferred to saving souls.
- Expecting the preacher to do all of the evangelism since that’s “what he’s paid to do.”
- Toleration of cliques
- Selfishness abounds
- You hear, “Back in our day” a lot.
- Obsession with keeping on schedule and finishing on time
- Frustration when a “so-called” leading of the Holy Spirit leads the worship minister or preacher to divert from keeping on schedule (thus rendering the bulletin useless) and finishing on time
- No support for world evangelism
- An unusually large Policy and Procedures Manual
- No–or very little–missions effort.
- Budget drives vision, not vice versa.
- Make bold moves only when there’s enough money in the bank to pay for it.
- Fear induced paralysis in moments requiring a step of faith.
John Muir was a naturalist who lived in the late 1800’s . . . and a pretty courageous man. He was an adventurer who spent most of his life exploring the west and documenting his experiences. He was not a man who seemed overly concerned with his own comfort and safety.
“It was easy to see that only a small part of the rain reached the ground in the form of drops. Most of it was thrashed into dusty spray, like that into which small waterfalls are divided when they dash on shelving rocks. Never have I seen water coming from the sky in denser or more passionate streams. The wind chased the spray forward in choking drifts, and compelled me again and again to seek shelter in the dell copses and back of large trees to rest and catch my breath. Wherever I went, on ridges or in hollows, enthusiastic water still flashed and gurgled about my ankles, recalling a wild winter flood in Yosemite when a hundred waterfalls came booming and chanting together and filled the grand valley with a sealike (sic) roar.
“After drifting an hour or two in the lower woods, I set out for the summit of a hill 900 feet high, with a view to getting as near the heart of the storm as possible. In order to reach it I had to cross Dry Creek, a tributary of the Yuba that goes crawling along the base of the hill on the northwest. It was now a booming river as large as the Tuolumne at ordinary stages, its current brown with mining-mud, washed down from many a ‘claim,’ and mottled with sluice-boxes, fence-rails, and logs that had long lain above its reach. A slim footbridge stretched across it, now scarcely above the swollen current. Here I was glad to linger, gazing and listening, while the storm was in its richest mood the gray rain-flood above, the brown river-flood beneath. The language of the river was scarcely less enchanting than that of the wind and rain; the sublime overboom (sic) of the main bouncing exultant current, the swash and gurgle of the eddies, the keen dash and clash of heavy waves breaking against rocks, and the smooth, downy hush of shallow currents feeling their way through the willow thickets of the margin. And amid all this varied throng of sounds I heard the smothered bumping and rumbling of boulders on the bottom as they were shoving and rolling forward against one another in a wild rush, after having lain still for probably a hundred years or more.” –The Mountains of California, John Muir, p. 262-3.
Did you catch that? Muir wasn’t content to be safe; he wanted to get “as near the heart of the storm as possible.”
I don’t want to be safe. I don’t want to seek shelter while faith rages beyond the open door. I want to be right next to God . . . as near the heart of my God as possible. . . because that’s the only place that is truly safe.