“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
I am going to take this space to disagree with my pastor. it’s not the first time I’ve disagreed with him, but this time I want to say something. Sunday he finished his sermon with this:
“You may be asking yourself is God safe? I’m here to tell you yes, God is safe!”
I understand the purpose behind that statement. It is an angry world, people are angry at God, or fear God is angry with them, or just want to know what this God thing is. Will they get hurt? Is it worth it? Why should they come back next week? If they enter these doors will that gnawing emptiness be filled? Will they be lied to? Will they be accepted? Will their kids be accepted? I understand the desire to wrap it all up and say ‘it’s safe here, come on in.” And leave it at that. But that is selling God short. And that is selling a God that is not accurate.
When we preach a God that is incomplete we are essentially saying that the God of the Bible, the “Lion of Judah” is too much to swallow, so we need to give a little bite sized version that people can handle.
Part of what makes Narnia so powerful is here is a children’s book with no watering down of the power of God. You cannot read those books without getting a sense of the deep power of Aslan and also the deep love. For something to be good, it does not need to be safe. It does not need to be controllable.
God is trustworthy. God is a holy fire that cannot stand evil and He is also a God who chooses to adopt us as children. He will not break His promises and He values us down to the number of hairs on our head. God is completely outside of our control, we cannot manipulate Him. Which is both terrifying and comforting, but most of the time comforting.
Instead of saying God is safe, tell about how God is good. He values you. And I think that’s where the desire for hearing “is it safe” comes from. Really what people are asking is “will I be valued?” And yes, you have value woven into your core and that is what God sees. That is what God died for and bore our punishment. Because He values you.
Don’t settle for a God who is safe.