The Health and Safety Myth
by Adam Howard
Content Coordinator, CBN Europe
Risk has become a dirty word; to be avoided at all costs. Our culture has been saturated with Health and Safety. Legislation and stacks of white paper documents that have replaced common sense in our workplaces. While I think it has helped to create safer working environments for many of us, I think that it has also sanitised our culture to some extent, perhaps creating and almost championing a fear of risk.
Awareness of risk and danger isn’t bad at all, but fear of it steals the joy of adventure. I believe that God has called us not to a life of sterility, but to one of adventure, embracing risk, in an appropriate way.
Our walk as Christians was never intended to be safe. Jesus was radical in so many ways, constantly challenging the conventional, traditions and methods of the time and culture in which He was. As time has gone on, we in the western church have adopted this warped idea that following Jesus is the tweed jacket and corduroy of life choices. The stereotypical socks and sandals, risk adverse, safe option. I don’t think this was ever the intention. The life of faith that we walk in is anything, but risk adverse. It’s full of risk. Full of opportunity to step out into ‘unknown’, uncharted territory.
Jesus modelled a life of stepping and breaking the preconceptions and cultural norms. I mean, who in their right mind spits on the ground and rubs it in a blind man’s eyes? Who tells tired fisherman to cast out again? Who hangs around with tax collectors and cheats? Jesus does. And that is what He calls us to do too. To step into the uncharted; into the world of the cheaters and rogues; into the lives of those who so desperately need Him. When we realise that walking out this life of faith means a commitment to a life of adventure, we’ll begin to embrace the risk and step with assurance into the spheres and onto the water that He is calling us to.
I believe that God has called us not to a life of sterility, but to one of adventure, embracing risk, in an appropriate way.
Where Does It Begin?
Embracing the risk element is our life starts with dangerous thinking. It starts with a renewal of your mind. Opening up to a Godly lobotomy, allowing God to create in you a new set of thought patterns and placing in you a new set of hopes and dreams.
When you opened the door of your heart to God at salvation, you became a new creation; the old has gone and the new has come (2 Cor 5:17). The Holy Spirit Himself came and made His dwelling in you (1 Cor 3:16). This is both a done deal and a commitment to a process. He has both made you new and continues to renew you each day. Romans 12:2 (NIV) says,
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV) says,
“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
As we allow God to work in us, our ‘box’ mentality changes. He takes the blinkers off and opens our perspective up to the panoramic, 360, multi-dimensional awesomeness that He sees. We begin to see the world through different lenses. And thus we approach our lives with a different appreciation and understanding.
How Do We Embrace the Risk?
There are two ways that we can embrace the risk and break the health and safety myth in our walk with Christ. Reading the accounts of Jesus in the Gospels and looking at His encounters with people, we see that He was never averse to stepping into uncharted territory. From engaging with the outcast to challenging the Pharisaic attitude. So, what can we learn from Jesus and how he does it? What was it that meant He could be a dangerous thinker and take the perceived risk? What was it that meant He stepped into the uncharted?
He stepped because He was secure in His identity in God.
He stepped because He was secure in the promises of God.
He stepped because He knew His Father’s voice.
He Was Secure in His Identity in God.
Jesus knew exactly what His Father thought about Him. At His baptism in Matthew 3:13-17, the voice of God speaks saying “This is my son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Jesus operated from a place of knowing. He was safe in the knowledge that God was who He said He was and secure in what God said about Him. When we go into exams without revising, we go in nervous and apprehensive for what we might be asked, with sweaty palms and no confidence. However, when we go in fully prepared, knowing the answers and all the possible permutations, we enter that exam hall with heads held high, brimming with confidence. Being unprepared for an exam is risky but going in on the back of knowledge removes the ‘risk’. Instead you can embrace and even enjoy the adventure of that exam.
It’s no different in stepping out with God. We can step out in full assurance of our identity in Christ, but in order to do that we need to know what He says about us. There is no substitute to revision and there is no substitute to spending time with God. If you want to know what someone thinks about you, ask him or her; spend time with them. Fortunately, we are also blessed with this amazing love letter to us; His word. Where God the Father effusively describes and ultimately demonstrates exactly what He thinks of us.
“Fearfully and wonderfully made” – Psalm 139:4
“Called you by name…precious in my sight” – Isaiah 43
If you want to step out, embracing the adventure, spend time on your face before Him and get knowledge of His thoughts over you.
He Was Secure in the Promises of God.
We boldly step out into the risky with the best ‘safety net’ of all time – God. In Deuteronomy 33:27 that we have His “everlasting arms” beneath us. If that doesn’t give us amazing confidence to step, I’m not sure what will. Maybe that His word “never returns void” (Isaiah 55:11) or that He will “never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5), or in Luke 1:37 “Not one promise of God is empty of power, for with God there is no such thing as impossibility.”; “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!” (Luke 1:45).
What is the promise that you are standing on in your life? Ask God for a promise to stand on. We step into the unknown, fully knowing that God will meet us there because He always has before and He doesn’t change. He is “trustworthy and true” (Revelation 21:5; 22:6), whose word never fails and upon whose word we can solidly build.
He Knew His Father’s Voice.
When you spend time in front of God, you begin to learn what He sounds like. With any relationship, as time passes you can recognise their voice amongst a crowd. Maybe you have developed a family whistle to help locate each other. In our uniqueness, God will speak to us. It may not be in the same way for each of us and it may not be an audible voice, but He will speak…if our ears are open. Recognising His voice can take time, but don’t give up. When we get to know the timbre of God’s voice we will confidently step regardless of the circumstance or setting, just to trust and obey.
“Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.” – John 5:19
“So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” – John 8:28
Sometimes we just need to ask Him to speak and wait for the response.
Why not read through 1 Samuel 3? Let’s ask the Lord to speak to us today; “Here I am. Speak, your servant is listening”.
As we ask, He will answer. Embrace the dangerous thinking; the out of the box; the walking on the water. As Paul Scanlon puts it, this life of faith isn’t a tight rope, but an adventure playground.
Trust and obey, step out the boat, embrace the risk and watch as God meets you out on the limb, blowing away all your expectations, trepidations and fears.