The Cross Is Not a Safe Path
We must repudiate the new religion of safeism:
‘Safeism’ is our new religion. Everyone wants to be kept safe, whatever that may entail. For most folks that means being willing to trade away all our freedoms and basic human rights if the Nanny State can ‘promise’ to protect us and keep us safe.
And countless Christians have bought right into this. They have become fully cultic about these things. They live in fear and terror and have fully succumbed to the media-generated panic porn. They are just as hysterical, paranoid and terrified as any non-Christian is. Instead of having a strong faith in a great God, they have a strong fear of a passing virus.
The bottom line is this: Safeism is idolatry. This overwhelming desire and fixation on being safe at all costs and living a risk-free life is not only a fool’s errand, but it is not something anyone claiming to be a Christian should be running with. Since when should believers be driven solely by the desire to stay alive and never get ill?
Since when is the sum and substance of Christianity to be spared any difficulty in life, be it an illness or any other trial or hardship? Sure, we do not go out of our way looking for problems and troubles, but we are never promised a risk-free and trouble-free life in Scripture.
And of course I am NOT saying Christians should not be sensible and practical when it comes to health and safety. I am not saying a believer can stand in the middle of a busy freeway with impunity. Sensible steps to keep healthy are of course fully warranted.
What I am talking about here is all the madness we see from folks willing to do anything to stay “safe” from the Rona. For some that means never leaving their homes, wearing two or three masks at a time, and getting a never-ending series of jabs – even if all this is highly questionable.
And worse yet these folks are willing to let the State do anything to supposedly keep them safe. They have been quite happy to trade away all their freedoms for this idol of safety. And as I say, Christians are not immune from this idolatry.
Christianity is not “safe”
My main title comes from a phrase suggested to me by a friend (thanks Kevin). He was speaking of how believers have been responding to the Rona and how so many live in fear instead of faith. I told him I had been saying the same thing for two years now, and his phrase would make for a good article. So here it is!
The truth is, there is nothing “safe” about the Christian life, just as the life and ministry of Jesus and the disciples can hardly be called safe. If you want a risk-free and totally safe life, you best not consider becoming a Christian. Jesus himself spend much of his adult life in harsh, dangerous conditions, culminating in a horrible and cruel death on a wooden cross.
If his main gospel was one of safeism, he never would have headed down that path. Indeed, the cross is the last thing people would think of when contemplating safety and security. It was a dreadful punishment back then that no one would seek out.
And the disciples also knew all about the cross. They championed it. Paul for example said he delights in nothing other than the cross. Consider just a few of his clarion remarks about what is his priority in life, as found in 1 Corinthians:
1 Cor. 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Cor. 1:23 We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles.
1 Cor. 2:2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
Even death was not something Paul was fixated on or worried about. Quite the contrary. For Paul – because of the resurrection of Christ – death had lost its sting (1 Cor. 15:54-56). He could even say this in Philippians 1:20-24:
It is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account.
Paul was not afraid of dying. He could laugh at death, as he was not bound in fear over it. And Paul’s sufferings and hardships prove how wedded he was to the cross, and how much he wanted nothing to do with personal peace and safety. He has a number of hardship lists that he writes about. Here is just one of them (2 Corinthians 11:23-33):
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. At Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to seize me, but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall and escaped his hands.
Or as he simply put it in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Um, this does NOT sound like a guy who was obsessed with safety. This does not sound like a guy who refused to take risks. This does not sound like a guy who would do anything to save his own skin.
We cannot accuse Paul of being guilty of the sin of safeism. Indeed, quite the opposite: some might accuse him of almost being reckless for Christ, of not caring a bit about his own personal safety and comfort. If Paul was looking for safety and a risk-free life, he picked the wrong faith to commit himself to.
And it is the same for us – or should be the same. If we come to Christ, we come knowing that we must die to self and to all that goes with it. When we sign up for a life of Christian discipleship, we sign away any rights we might have to safety, longevity, comfort, and the good life.
The God we serve is not a celestial nanny who works to keep us safe and coddled and pampered and happy. He is more loving than that: his aim is to make us like Christ. And if that means putting us through hardships and trials and persecution and suffering and want, then so be it. That is far more important than promising us a safe and problem-free life.
Indeed, God himself is hardly safe. As the author of Hebrews put it, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Or as C. S. Lewis famously put it in his The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
“Aslan is a lion – the Lion, the great Lion.” “Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion” … “Safe?” said Mr Beaver … “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Folks, the bottom line is this: if you want to live some magical life free of any and all danger, risk and trouble, you need to give Christianity a wide berth. If your number one goal is to be “safe” and stay alive for as long as possible, you are not into Christianity but into Safeism. And that my friends is idolatry.
And the only proper option for idolaters is to repent of their idolatry, to renounce it, and to turn from it. May God give us grace to do so.
16 Replies to “The Cross Is Not a Safe Path”
As we look at our nation we can see that a church based on the teachings of God through His word is becoming less and less acceptable to those who have rejected it.
We are well and truly into the age of a world religion where the allowable beliefs are determined by the disobedient people who have never submitted to God’s word.
This was not unexpected as God’s word forewarned us of this event but the thing we will also see is the mass falling away to either the world religion or to no religion at all. These people are the seeds that fell on the shallow ground and when the wind blew on them they withered and died. They could not stand for God when it became difficult.
My prayer is that God will be a shelter to His people but also that He will separate the wheat from the chaff in order to make a bride that is spotless.
I also pray that he will keep me as I am weak and without His help, I could fall also for it is by His grace that we stand
Bless you Stuart. Yes we will stand strong, by God’s grace.
Thank you Bill. For the past two years I have witnessed nothing but fear regarding the issue of death. It is observation that this is a test bed to see how submissive society can be when programmed. The coming mark should be rather easy to implement based on current responses.
Yes Fred, all tyrants know the overwhelming value of pushing fear and panic.
The strange thing is, I’ve never been afraid of the coronavirus. I’m more afraid of the so-called vaccines and their side-effects. I feel safer not getting them, I’ve never been worried about covid-19. So does that mean I should get the vaccines in order to live an unsafe life? The world is getting the jab in order to feel safe, as you have pointed out, but wouldn’t it be better to tell them they’re safer not getting it, as I feel I am? And if we’re safer not getting it, then maybe they’re actually living the unsafe life by getting it, even though they don’t realize it now…
Good article again Bill.
Your blog and David Robertson (The Wee Flea) are why I ditched reading gospel coalition australia early on in the pandemic because, well they weren’t really interested in the gospel. They just rolled over.
I go to a Bible believing church network headed by someone on gospel coalition council but throughout the network it’s just covid virtue signaling, no real gospel.
As someone with a PhD in physics and multiple chronic illnesses I despair at the lack of critical thinking, the lack of applied theology and I n general the rubbish in our churches.
I know you’ve written about Francis Schaeffer elsewhere but he treats this safeism well in his book “How then should we live”.
Ps. John Piper in his book Desiring God also treats this safeism well.
C S Lewis said “There is no greater tyranny than that which is ‘for your own good”. To be kept “safe” is not living – as Christians we are set free to live and know that to die means to leave this world and be with Christ. I think one of the most awful parts of this period in time has been to see Christians who seem to have no confidence in the promises of Christ. “I am with you always, to the end of the age.
‘if you want to live some magical life free of any and all danger, risk and trouble, you need to give Christianity a wide berth.”
Amen brother! Bill, thank you for your persistent push up stream. May you be filled with the Spirit and speak His powerful words. Words with the power to change the shape of things. Bless you and all praise be to the Father who was and is and is to come.
Many thanks Phill.
I have been disappointed that so many Christian friends some of whom I regarded highly have just rolled over. I am trying not to be judgemental. I guess I am only responsible to work out my own salvation.
Thanks Bill for continuing to put your neck one the line for truth. The West has truly become obsessed with well-being, greatly from the efforts of those from the East who saw the opportunities to cash in on the West’s growing desire for prosperity in every part of life. The ‘Gurus’ we very smart in developing a market in which the West fell deeply head over heels for! And the church was no exception, swept away in the promises of health and prosperity. Many in the church have forgotten that we are to practice dying daily, to take up our cross and follow our Lord to death so He can live His life through His people. We reenact this whenever we take communion or witness a new believer being baptised. Pastors used to die for and with their flock, Christians would minister to people dying of the Black Death to their own detriment, and be on the front line fighting for the rights and dignity off others at great cost to themselves We have moved so far away from the sacrificial history and tradition of the church that set us apart from the world. How fast it has happened!
Keep up the great work Bill.
Many thanks Ross.
Margaret Thatcher said that people living under socialism live like animals in a zoo. She does not mean that they are animals. She said that people live in their house and their food, housing and everything is provided by the government. She that they live in a cage with everything provided by the government. Sound familiar? Sounds like lockdown to me! This is in the video on YouTube called “Margaret Thatcher – Interview by William F Buckley Jr 1977”. This is a very good video. It is like a prediction of lockdowns in 1977! Big government means that the government spends big. It means higher and higher inflation. Inflation is hard to decrease. When taxes are high you create tax exiles. High-income earners might move overseas to escape high taxes. The Beatles were paying 95% of their income in taxes!!! A lot of British bands moved to the US. The welfare state means that people expect the government to pay for everything. There was one young man in the US who has 30 children from 11 women! He is 33 years old!!! He wants the government to help him with child support! There is a video on YouTube titled: Man with 30 kids asks for a ‘break’. There are similar stories in the UK and all over the world. Every time I look up this up there is a man with more children than before! It is incredible. The welfare state has destroyed some people’s idea of responsibility. Some people are in genuine need such as the elderly and disabled.