The Danger of Playing it Safe

It is almost football season, and the one thing all football fans hate is the prevent defense. It is often used at the end of the game when the winning team plays a soft defense allowing for a lot of little plays while preventing the BIG play. Sounds like a good strategy, right? It has been said that the only thing the prevent defense does is prevent victories.

There is an inherent danger in playing it safe. When you lessen the risk, you lower the reward. When you lower the reward, you soon lose all incentive to try.

I would submit that this has been one of the problems in the modern Church. In trying to play it safe with culture (not wanting to be infected by it) we have lessened our ability to speak into and redeem culture. This has created a chasm that has separated the Church from the culture in which it exists. What once was a just a minor fissure has continued to widen to the point that the Church and culture are on separate mountain tops with miles between.

Some would see this as a good thing. We don’t want to be tainted or soiled by the world. We are supposed to be separate and holy. While there are good points in that thinking in regards to being holy and keeping from things that we are morally averse to, what good can we do when we remove ourselves from culture. We must remember that culture, in general, is neither good nor bad. Culture is the prevailing thought and climate of a society. Culture can be different depending on country, region, state, city or even neighborhood.

Here’s why I think it is a detriment to the church to remain separate from culture. If we do not remain at least some what connected, we risk losing the opportunity to redeem the culture that surrounds us. By creating our own subculture, we cut ourselves off from those who most need to hear about the grace that saves us.

At our roots we are no different than those who are not a part of the Church. We are all sinners in need of grace. Someone once shared with us about this same grace. For some this came at great cost, for others it was quite simple. Either way there was risk involved. You could have said no. You could have ignored their invitation. You could have rejected the hope that comes from a relationship with Jesus.

So how do we engage culture in meaningful and significant ways? It starts with not being scared of things that are different from us. Tattoos, piercings, preferences and perspectives all have a way of keeping us from those who may most need to hear what matters most to us. “Do we want people like that in the church?” Need I remind that Jesus did NOT take exception to the prostitute washing His feet with her tears or anointing Him with perfume, that was the religious leaders who would not dare be caught being around a person of such morals.

Is there a danger that we might lose our bearings and veer from the path God has for us? Yes, but that is why we must remain connected to Jesus (John 15) with a growing and vital relationship. If our connection to Jesus remains strong and true, then we need not fear and ought to pursue others who may be far and wide and in need of God’s saving grace.

Playing it safe says, “Ya’ll come over to us and we’ll tell you what you need to know.” Being radical, rejecting the idea of playing it safe decides to GO, anywhere and everywhere, and ENGAGE, anyone and everyone, that we might be bridge builders so others might come near to God.

If the prevent defense prevents victories, then the church playing it safe keeps people from finding grace and salvation in Jesus.


~ by mikefoster on August 26, 2013.

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