Christmas 2021 #2 Peace overcoming Safetyism

 


Christmas 2021 #2  Peace overcoming Safetyism

 Psalms 34:12–14 (NIV)

Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days, keep your tongue from evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

 As we prepare for our Incarnation Celebration we are considering peace.  Last time we agreed that peace exists when there is a binding or joining together something that has been separated.  We learned that our spiritual peace is the result of our pleasing God.  We discovered that it is through faith, fearing, and following behaviors that God is pleased and estrangement with God ends.  Recall the angels sang to the shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks during the night “Peace to all men and women on earth who please him.”

 John Lennon wrote,” “This-ism, that-ism, ism ism ism All we are saying is give peace a chance” (Give Peace a Chance, 2006).  In our polarizing culture peace is in short supply.  We are being “ism’d” to death.  Fractured relationships need peace.  We believe that peace with God makes it possible for human beings to be at peace with themselves and peace with each other.  Peace with God comes as we do what pleases God.  Trusting that the gospel is true:  That everyone conflicts with God because of sin; believing Jesus’s mission was to atone for those sins and bring peace between you and God that when you commit to living God’s way—you are forgiven, set free, and empowered to live your life to the full.  Peace with God makes peace possible within yourself, which in turn flows out as peace with others.  Because of God’s peace the followers of Jesus can become peacemakers.  By bringing those estranged and divided together we can change the world.  But it begins in you, it begins with your desire to have peace with God.  Do you want the peace God offers?  Ask God for it.  He will lead you into His perfect peace.  Ask right now. 

 Peace is uniting two that were divided, reconciling two that were at odds. Three “ism’s” are killing peace:  Safetyism, Emotionalism, and Tribalism.  We are going to examine these “ism’s” to see how they can be overcome.  Our Incarnation Celebration invites us to become infected with the virus of peace and to be carriers of the peace virus.  The world needs to get infected. We need a pandemic of peace but one thing preventing peace is safetyism

 Safetyism refers to the cult of safety, where an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being is the number one priority.  Being safe becomes the most important value.  Even truth takes a second seat to safety.  Everyone wants to be safe but what can happen when safety becomes your number one priority is that you imprison yourself, you build boundary walls around you that keep you safe from perceived threats, but after a while, those boundary walls become a prison cell, anxiety and fear increase in your daily life.  

 From “helicopter parents,” to “Political Correctness,” to “no diving boards on your private pool,” to “University Campus’ Safe Zones,” safety has become the number one cultural concern.  Keeping people safe physically used to be what safety was about.  But when you live in a culture of fear almost everything becomes unsafe.  For the most part, media heightens the fear factor.  Historically every governing body uses fear to control and manipulate the governed.  Generate an adequate amount of fear and people will do just about anything to stay safe.  The quest for safety has engulfed the idea of emotional safety.  People need to be protected from what will emotionally upset them, like a differing opinion or someone disagreeing with them, or an idea that challenges their worldview.  We must keep people safe from triggering events that recall some undisclosed traumatic event.  Keeping people safe is always “for the good of the people.”  We must legislate, regulate, and control “the many” for the safety of “the few.”  It’s for the greater good.

 When you live like this imprisoned by the need for safety you take no risks.  No risks result in no growth. No growth leads to stagnation.  Stagnation invites rot.  There is no peace in rot.  Living in reality one weighs the risk against the reward.  If in reality, we judge the risk too high we refrain from taking it.  If in reality, we judge the reward great enough we go for it.  But in a culture of safety, no risk is worth the possibility of being harmed, of being rejected, or being challenged, the harm of being disagreed with, the harm of differing opinions. 

Playing it safe stifles your growth.  To grow physically and emotionally you need to be challenged.  You need to be confronted with difficult tasks.  You need to explore, discover, and solve.  You are not fragile, you need the trials. testing, and tribulations to mature.  Mom, Dad, your kids are not fragile.

 James 1:2-4 (MSG)

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don't try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

 The way to overcome suffocating your growth is by embracing the new and challenging (Isaiah 43:18-19).  Turn off the TV and start solving life’s mysteries and puzzles.  Stop texting and start talking.  Begin learning something you’ve wanted to do, building that new skill builds you (Proverbs 24:5).  Don’t stop learning, don’t stop listening (Proverbs 18:15, James 1:9).  Expand your network of people, become a conduit for connection (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).  Do things you’ve never done before, go to new places, go to the wilderness, go to the beach, go to the city, go explore.  Try again something you have previously failed at.  Ask yourself:  Is there any value in reconciling the damaged relationships in your life (Matthew 18:15)? Face your challenges and overcome them not run from them (2 Corinthians 4:16-17).  Meet your neighbors.  Volunteer.  You intentionally expose yourself to new ideas, new thoughts, and think things through for yourself and you will grow (Proverbs 14:15).  These are examples of what a good life coach will tell you.  Play it safe just wraps you in a straight jacket.

 “Playing it safe” stops your spiritual growth.  Jesus is our example and he did not play things safe.  He confronted and sometimes antagonized people with wrong ideas to the point where the opposition sought to solve this “boat rocking” by putting Him to death. The Apostle Paul was a follower of Jesus and he put his life on the line numerous times.  Doing God’s will is dangerous.

Matthew 10:16 (NIV)

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

Play it safe and you will not go out on God's missions.  You will not seek to do God’s will.  You will be like the servant who was entrusted with $100,000 and hid it in the ground (Matthew 25:14-30).  By choosing to play it safe the servant lost everything. There is no faith without following, following means obedience to God’s way, no obedience results in no peace with God.

Go all-in with God.  Stake your life on His promises, that even if you are slain, there is life eternal waiting for you (John 11:25).  Come out of the shadows, come in from the fringes, and be a lover,  you’ve been empowered to be one (Isaiah 43:10).  Give yourself away (John 15:13).  You are God’s special gift to the world.  He manifests His love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and provision through you (1 Corinthians 12:7-12).  Take that stand for what is right, for Kingdom values, and don’t worry about what you’ll say, the Holy Spirit will inspire you (Matthew 10:19).  Don’t allow yourself to be cowed into being silent about your faith (Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9).  Have an answer ready to those who would question the way you live your life (1 Peter 3:15-16).  Will there be opposition? Of course, there will be (John 16:2)!  Don’t avoid being God’s ambassador by playing it safe (2 Corinthians 5:11-12).

Playing it safe steals your autonomy.  You become like your five closest friends (1 Corinthians 15:33).  The urge to conform is powerful.  That makes you susceptible to groupthink, to the false consensus effect.   The effect creates the conviction that “if the people around me think a certain way, then it must be right.”  You convince yourself that everyone should think and behave like us.  You are not a clone, you need to seek out the truth for yourself, not accept someone else’s opinion on what is right. If you are not true to your calling, your uniqueness, there will be no peace with yourself.

 Proverbs 29:25 (MSG)

The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.

When was the last time you got out of your safety zone and into the danger zone? 

You get into the danger zone by searching for the truth (John 17:17, Psalm 119:160).  Suspect that if everyone believes the way you do then you may have been captured by consensus bias, groupthink (1 Corinthians 10:12).  If you think you are right, then, search out someone who has a different opinion, listen, seek to understand why they disagree with you.  Look through their rose-colored glasses, you won’t have to keep them on.  In doing this you gain an understanding of both sides of the story and you just might find a better way than either your or their opinion.

 1 John 4:1 (MSG)

My dear friends, don't believe everything you hear. Carefully weigh and examine what people tell you. Not everyone who talks about God comes from God. There are a lot of lying preachers loose in the world.

If there are lying preachers, I think it’s safe to assume that there are others who are deceived also.  Examine what you hear, what you read, evaluate all in light of scripture and your experience.  Test the validity of what the crowd is saying. Delve into the agenda of some particular thought or movement before you sign up.  Don’t be a parrot, dig deeper than the headlines.  Checking your sources is important.  Confirming that your thoughts are your own and the ramifications of those thoughts are in line with Kingdom values is more important (Romans 14:5).  You have been given the gift of a sound mind and the ability to choose  (Romans 12:2, 2 Timothy 1:7).  If you let others think and choose for you, you’ve surrendered yourself, you’ve let them steal your autonomy.  Don’t lose your peace by playing it safe going with the flow.

 Life is inherently dangerous.  We get through life weighing risk against reward.  But when you play it safe, the risk of harm always seems greater than the reward of learning new things, experiencing new things, growing into the person God has always intended for you to be.  You are not fragile, you can handle life, God empowers you to do so. If you start your investigation with the question: What is the worst possible thing that can happen?  You may choose to stay in bed, “hiding in your room safe within your womb” (Simon & Garfunkel, 1966).  The rewards of risk are growth. When safety becomes the preeminent value, your freedom, your liberty, your autonomy, and your peace are forfeited.

 All I am saying is to give peace a chance.

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