We can be safe or we can be alive—not both

By Curtis K. Shelburne: CNJ columnist

We can be safe, or we can be truly alive. Not both. Opting for “safety” is an illusion both unsafe and pathetic, a gag gift all wrapped up with three bedraggled ribbons: fear, arrogance, and control.

When safety is our highest goal, we betray a fear of life and, deeper still, a lack of trust in the God of life. Then we’re well on our way to becoming our own gods. Why? So we can control our own lives and the lives of those around us.

Law-based religion is wrapped up in those three constricting ribbons. Fear that if we don’t keep all the right laws, we’ll be lost. An unwillingness to trust the God who through his Son has done the work of salvation. An arrogance so blinding that we actually think that we can save ourselves. A deep desire for the control we’d gain if we could demand what we’ve earned rather praising God for what we’ve been given. A longing for control over others we think we’ve bested in religious rule-keeping. To trust in God’s grace means to stand alongside all who hope only in grace–shoulder to shoulder, above no one. Ah, a bitter pill, God’s grace. Amazing indeed. But it’s not safe. It’s deadly to pride.