Eugene C. Scott joins Mike in writing A Daily Bible Conversation twice a week.
My kindergarten age daughter paid scant attention to the TV as the reporter and a safety expert gleefully searched several playgrounds for implements of childhood torture. It was National Playground Safety Day and the reporter rattled off alarming statistics about playground injuries. At each playground, however, much to their chagrin, the safety team found no violations.
Standing in the kitchen devouring my unsafe sugary cereal, I chortled and made derogatory comments about the news media manufacturing news. My wife, an elementary school teacher, disagreed and chastised me for being so cynical.
Meanwhile the reporter finally found a safety violation.
“Eureka!” I shouted.
Horrors, they had found the ground at the bottom of the slide too hard.
I laughed out loud. My wife gave me “the look” and I stifled further commentary, bundled up my daughter, and delivered her to school.
By 10A.M. I had forgotten all about National Playground Safety Day. Until my phone rang.
“This is the nurse from your daughter’s school,” said the kind woman. “Don’t worry. She’s not hurt. We are just required to tell you that she fell off the swing on the playground and hit her head.”
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Judges 8:18-9:21. Notice how easily Gideon and the people fall back into fear and false worship practices. How we live out our ideas and theology makes a difference in what our lives look like. They are following the practices of the nations around them in raising up the sons of the previous leader/king despite that God does not approve nor is the person always worthy.
Luke 23:44-24:12 . Luke’s recounting of the crucifixion is very spare but each detail counts. Luke is now considered one of the finest ancient historians because of his historical accuracy and detail.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
If you had to choose between freedom and safety, which direction would you lean? In my corner of the world it seems we’re listing toward safety and away from freedom. Just watch the news, as I mention above. Rules to keep us safe are all the rage.
But this heedless pursuit of safety is downright dangerous. It has driven us seek lives that brook no upsets and to form families, churches, and governments whose primary calling is protect us rather than challenge us and give us a scary freedom that may help us grow and become–not safe–but holy.
Further this so-called protected lifestyle has left us more vulnerable to the dangers we fear. For example, studies show using too much antibacterial soap is actually making us weaker and bacteria stronger.
Seeking too much safety may also subtly lead us to seek a safe (and unreal) God. God is anything but safe, says Mark Buchanan in his book Your God is Too Safe. “God isn’t nice. God isn’t safe. God is a consuming fire,” he writes.
Before us seeking safety led the Israelites to a fatal misunderstanding of God. In an obvious bid for safety they beg Gideon, “Rule over us.” On the surface this is understandable. They live in a dangerous, war-torn world and, as we see later in the story, will do almost anything to have someone, anyone, other than the uncontrollable, fiery, invisible God of Moses and Joshua, walk with them in it.
Instead they choose corruptible human leadership and return to worshiping their safe, self-made, wooden god’s that exact no real demands nor deliver any real help. But they feel safe.
No matter whether we would choose safety over freedom, God often seems to choose freedom for us. It seems to me this is because, though dangerous, freedom births life while safety puts us to sleep, at best.
- When do you feel most safe?
- Are there any links between these four readings?
- When do you feel most free?
- When have you grown most in your faith?
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