Years ago, a hymnbook came out called Sacred Selections. It made numerous changes to the words of songs to adapt them to fit the beliefs of the editors. For example, instead of “When We All Get To Heaven,” this book had “When The Saved Get To Heaven.” Critics called it Scared Selections.
The subject of “safety” in Christian practice came up the other day. Too often, we let fear determine our practices, what we will do and what we won’t. (I wrote about “The Ticking Time Bomb” a couple of years ago) While actively seeking to do what is unsafe is foolish, focusing on “safety” in religion can lead us to an even more dangerous place.
It’s like the rabbinic concept of “the fence around the Torah.” To keep from violating the Torah, they made rules that would keep them from getting close to lawbreaking. This created a safety zone. It also created a new set of laws.
Think about this principle in real life. What if every choice we made was determined by safety? We’d probably eat baby food, just to reduce the risk of choking. No elevators; it’s the stairs for us. Speed limits would be set at 10 mph, or maybe cars would be banned altogether. Human contact would be restricted, to avoid the risk of contagion. See what I mean?
We see it in sports. The teams that play to “not lose” rarely win. Frankly, I think we see it in churches as well. That atmosphere of fear doesn’t foster healthy church relations. It kills creativity, spontaneity and leaves little to no room for the Spirit to work.
Part of this comes from the lost/saved mentality, the one that says that all that matters is being saved. In a sense, that is the ultimate goal, yet Christians that focus on that rarely enjoy the fullness of life in Christ. Our focus needs to be on pleasing God. It needs to be on the imitation of Christ. It needs to be on living life as a citizen of the kingdom, promoting the good of that kingdom. It’s not just a focus on “Am I in or out?”.
Or is there a way to focus on safety without focusing on fear? Am I defining things too narrowly? Am I misunderstanding what others have said?
Looking forward to your input.