Don’t Bow to the Idol of “Safety”

moses-on-the-mount-3a-jpg“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

After the Hebrews escaped Egyptian slavery and wandered in the wilderness toward the Promised Land (see the Book of Exodus), they were given many laws to be obeyed as the people of God (Exodus 20:1-17). One of the most egregious sins listed in the Law of Moses regarded idolatry, or worship of an image made of stone or metal. The Canaanites engaged in horrific religious rituals that included child-sacrifice.  Idolatry would inevitably lead to such behaviors, and unfortunately, the Israelites fell into the ideas and beliefs of the society around them.

Christians today do not worship statues of gods that are placed on their window sills or tables in their homes.  Nowadays, the idols pinpointed by pastors and teachers include sex, money and power, as perversions of these lead to destructive lifestyles that interfere with a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Risen MovieDuring the Passion Week prior to Easter, I went through a five-day devotional entitled, “Risen,” which includes short clips from the movie of the same title, devotional thoughts, and passages from Scripture. Day two of the “Risen” devotional hit me right between the eyes and is called “The Idol of Safety.”

American society is obsessed with safety, which is a noble effort. We implement numerous safety policies and procedures at my school as children must be protected.  But there is a spiritual component that can negatively impact one’s faith.  I believe there exists a spirit of fear that has gripped many today, especially parents.  The author of the “Risen” devotional summarizes our generation,Safety First Sign

We are the most seat-belted, bike-helmeted, air-bagged, kneepad-wearing, private-schooled, gluten-freed, hand-sanitized, peanut-avoiding, sunscreen-slathering, hyper-insured, massively medicated, password-protected, valet-parked, security-systemed, inoculated generation in history—and all it has done is make everyone more afraid of everything.

Please do not send me the reasons why each of these items are enhancements to western civilization!  The point is that we can cross a line from being wisely cautious to irrationally paranoid about events we cannot control.  This fear about the world can erode our faith in God too.  Instead, the next generation of children need to develop into risk-taking entrepreneurs, unwavering leaders in our churches and communities, and fearless men and women who shape America’s future, with God’s help.

Daniel Refuse to Bow to IdolShadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow to the golden idol of Nebuchadnezzar even though everyone else in their society submitted (Daniel 3:8-30). This was not safe and resulted in their being thrown into the fiery furnace.  Unfortunately, for us and our children, we live in a society that demands we live in fear.  And if you aren’t scared, then you really don’t care.  Just watch the news, they will tell you why you should be terrified, with an accompanying video clip.

Paul wrote to the Ephesian Christians facing an unsafe Roman Empire that fought the spread of the Gospel, “Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10).  Then, he instructed them regarding the full armor of God, metaphorically acknowledging the dangerous world in which we live, both physically and spiritually.  God’s people shouldn’t think, talk and act like fragile flowers easily blown over by a soft breeze. As the old Petra song says, “More Power to Ya!”

I pray we never elevate fear above faith.  For when our well-reasoned concern about safety becomes an obsession and we simply wait for the next disaster to strike, it has become an idol that must be eliminated from our life.  In God’s plan, doing the safest thing is not always the right thing.

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