“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 think sometimes people project their insecurities on to church leaders and members. Like when there is a sin they’re not dealing with or have not dealt with, or if God has put a purpose or ministry on their heart for them to do, suddenly, the church is a horrible, uncaring place full of hypocrites. What becomes a moment God is trying to use to correct and use us becomes a selfish tirade against people who are trying to follow God’s will and command for their lives. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying church leaders or members are perfect in any way, but we are not Jesus, we are not omniscient, we are not the savior, and we have limitations on everything we’re able to do.
No, I think this symptom is part of a deeper root issue. We (I’m including myself here) want the church to make us comfortable. We want it to meet certain needs, wants, wishes and desires, but we want to be comfortable and be made to feel good and to stay the same while the church grows around us. As someone with three unsightly stumps in his yard (I don’t have the tools or the knowhow to remove them), can I say that something that is not growing hinders the growth of everything around it? The Church is not a safe space. Growth hurts, and is hard on the entire Body, but it’s worth it.
I know this is an offensive statement, but hear me out: I have sat with people, for days and weeks, I have helped through tragedies, I have been there for their family, only to be turned on when something I said was something these people didn’t like. I have helped people in financial situations, even when I didn’t really have the money (which is often), I have given time, treasure and talents, only to be returned coldly and with indifference (at minimum). I’m not saying this for sympathy, but when did we decide the Church was a product to be delivered? When did we decide that the Church was focused on us and our needs? It’s not, and it’s not a safe place.
Explore the scriptures, and look at what happened to the Prophets. Look at what happened to the Apostles, and when Saul (and others) ravaged the church. Jesus, our Lord, was hung on a cross; what is safe about any of this? If you follow Christ, expect hardship, trial, tribulation and persecution. The world in rebellion seeks to stamp out anything that reminds it that it is not a god, and those who walk in the Light as Jesus is in the Light will be sought to be removed. But there is assurance, not a safe space, in following Jesus. We know how it all turns out. When we were saved, we knew we would be a target, but we know Jesus has such a supreme victory that, even if our lives are given for torture and death (as brothers and sisters the world over are experiencing), we have nothing to fear, for we shall be with Him for eternity, where none of the sufferings of this life matter. Trust in Jesus, crucify your self with all its wants, wishes and desires, and serve His will. There is where your peace will be found.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.