The term, “Playing It Safe” is about avoiding the risks, even if the risks might lead to a greater result. We do so for 1 of 2 reasons. One is that we choose a more cautious approach because we are afraid of the other result—failure. The other reason is because some simply are not willing to pay the price of complete surrender—i.e. selfishness. So, we settle for something less, much less. There is a fine line that exists between being courageous and being foolish.
Our problem is we call it “risky” when we make our resources primary and God’s resources secondary. Usually, but not always, when we face the choice between what is risky and what is safe, we will give in toward playing it safe.
And many people, especially when it comes to church, prefer playing it safe over taking risks. Why? Because isn’t that what it means to be a Christian? Doesn’t God want us to be safe from harm and evil? Absolutely He wants to keep us safe from evil.
But I am concerned that we’ve taken being safe too far, especially when it comes to following Jesus. Following Jesus isn’t about playing it safe; It’s About Taking The Risks! In the desire to play it safe we have mistakenly thought that God wants us to be comfortable. But What God Wants From Us Is Faith.
In the Blueprint For A New You we started at the beginning with changing from thinking in an entirely human perspective to thinking with the mind of Christ. Last week we uncovered the next step: that we need perspective to go along with this new way of thinking. We need Jesus to open our eyes in order for us to follow Him into the work of The Kingdom. Now comes action—specifically taking action that comes out of our faith.
If you can remember only 1 thing this morning, then remember this: Life With Jesus Is About Stepping Out In Faith And Giving Him Complete Control Of Our Life Regardless Of How We Feel.
Playing it safe is looking at our abilities and resources then making our decisions. But where is the faith in that? Faith leads to more. Faith in the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross is required for us to be saved. There is more to faith.
Faith isn’t a trophy we put on a shelf and say to our friends, “See that faith? Yep, that’s when God saved me from my sins and gave me a new life. I keep it there to remind me how gracious, loving and good God was to me. Yep, I dust it off every week.”
But faith does so much more. Faith isn’t just for our salvation. It is for our daily walk with Jesus, and this daily walk requires that our faith grow and expands. The Life Of Faith Isn’t About Feeling Safe But Being Confident In Whatever It Is That God Wants Us To Do.
In this Blueprint For A New You, there comes that moment when we must Step Out In Faith! Never has this been more important than at this very moment. This place, and this movement of Wesleyan Awakening hinges on answering this question: Will You Play It Safe Or Take The Risk Of Stepping Out In Faith? Or will you retreat to some moment in history when it was safer and easier to follow Jesus? To help us understand what it means to Step Out In Faith, turn to Isaiah 43:1-2 (NLT):
But now, O Jacob, listen to the LORD who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you
Did you hear those words: deep waters, rivers of difficulty, fire of oppression? Pardon me, but does that sound safe? Maybe it’s just me, but that doesn’t sound safe. And did you notice what God said about those times?
He didn’t say “If” you face those moments, but “When” you are in those places. When the waters run deep, When rivers are turbulent, When the fire rages—we step out into those risky places because we are not alone in those moments.
But we do tend to forget that He is with us. So, we choose to avoid risks at all costs. And the price we pay is too high! To Step Out In Faith means we know that in the risky moments, God is with us. He said He created us, and He created us FOR those moments.
The Hebrew word for “created” doesn’t mean just the story found in Genesis. It means To Create With New Conditions And New Circumstances. The New Condition is that God has made us a totally different person. The New Circumstance is that He now lives IN us.
Our New Condition is that we are now Formed By His Hand To Join In His Purpose Of Restoring Others and this New Circumstance is that The Holy Spirit Lives In Us For That Purpose. Now more than ever, we need to remember God’s promise through Isaiah. When the challenge is great and the risks are high, remember His promise.
1. When You Go Through Deep Waters, Think About Moses (Exo. 14)
God called Moses to lead His people out of bondage in Egypt. Remember in Egypt that Moses’ first attempt at being a leader failed. In Egypt, Moses is a man wanted for murder. When God calls him to go back, he offers all kinds of excuses, but God doesn’t let go. He has created and formed Moses for such a time as that. So, Moses takes the risk. He had no idea what would happen, only that God was with him.
After some plagues, Pharaoh agrees to let them go, but changes his mind and sends the army to go bring them back. God has led them to the Red Sea. Behind them is the army to take them back to bondage. In front of them is the Red Sea and not a bridge or boat in sight. Moses is about ready to panic, but God reminds Moses of His presence. They go “through” the deep waters of the Red Sea, and the Egyptian army tries but doesn’t make it.
If you remember the story, it tells us a wind divided the water so they could cross over on dry land. That “Wind” Was The Holy Spirit—The Same Holy Spirit That Comes To Live In Us With The Presence Of Jesus.
There are many deep waters we face—and the greatest risk we face is being the Body of Christ in this world. When you face your deep waters, remember that God has given you the wind and breath of the Holy Spirit. He Has Created And Formed YOU For Such A Time As This.
2. When You Go Through Rivers Of Difficulty, Think About Peter (Matt. 14)
Jesus had sent the disciples on ahead to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, but He stayed behind because He needed His “safe place” to get away for a time. During that night journey, an enormous storm came up. It looked like they would sink and drown.
But through the storm someone said, “Look, someone is walking on the water. It’s a ghost!” But Jesus said, “Oh pipe down, guys, it’s ME!” Peter wants to be sure that it’s really Jesus, so he said, “Well, if it’s really you, invite me to join you out there.” And what does Jesus do? He invites Peter to take a walk, not on a calm sea, but a stormy one. Do you remember what Peter does?
(And don’t say “He sinks”!) He steps out of that boat, and really walks on that stormy sea. The preacher, teacher and writer, John Ortburg, is right. To follow Jesus, we have to get out of the boat, because Jesus isn’t in the boat. Jesus invites us to join Him in an adventure.
Jesus Calls Us To Go Into Those Places Where It Is All About Him. He doesn’t call us to a set of rules or traditions; He doesn’t call us to the safety of a bank account, home, family, career, or some other thing. He calls us to be in relationship with Him and working with Him in what He is doing. When the river is turbulent, take the risk of joining Jesus in what He is doing.
3. When You Walk Through The Fire, Think About Shadrach, Meshach, And Abednego (Dan. 3)
The Israelites had been carried into exile. Daniel, along with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were blessed by God with wisdom. King Nebuchadnezzar recognized their talents and appointed them to leadership positions. Some of the local guys were jealous, so they convinced the king to construct this enormous statue with the order that when the theme song was played, everyone was to bow before that idol.
But Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused and were hauled in before the king. He gave them one last chance to worship an idol or be thrown into a fiery furnace. And in that defining moment of decision—play it safe—or—take the risk—they said:
“Look, King, no disrespect intended. We worship only one God, and that statue isn’t Him. And about that furnace, our God has the power to protect us even there. (Here’s the great part.) But even if He doesn’t deliver us, if He whispered in our ears ‘Guys, this is gonna hurt’, we will not bow down to this or any other image. So, go ahead and throw us in.”
Well the King got mad and put that furnace on super high, and had them bound and thrown in. And once in there, an unbelievable thing happened. The only things that burned were their captors and the ropes. Once inside they didn’t see 3 being burned up, but 4 freely walking about—IN that fire. God did not send some kind of force field to keep the flames away. He showed up in that furnace and said, “Mind if I join you?”
Whatever the risk is for faithfully following Jesus, count on Jesus being right there with you. Those times when the heat is on for you to show Jesus to our world, count on Jesus to see you through it. The risks He calls us to take, will at times look like it will destroy us. Outside the furnace, no one else saw God but Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. But Inside That Furnace, Everyone Could See God. Not outside the furnace, but inside the furnace is where others could see God.
Life with Jesus isn’t about playing it safe, where we can control everything. Life With Jesus Is About Stepping Out In Faith And Giving Him Complete Control Of Our Life Regardless Of How We Feel. Stepping out in faith means that we really, I mean REALLY trust in Jesus. If we can see it with our physical eyes, touch it with our hands, and understand it with our natural minds, then it’s nowhere near faith.
Faith is about giving up control—control of trying to save yourself, to be good enough by yourself—to be smart enough by yourself, to be strong enough by yourself—in order to totally trust God with everything, I mean every detail and every part of your life.
Trust Him—when the waters are deep—when the rivers are difficult—and when the furnace is hot!
We’re talking about Faith. Remember what it says in Hebrews 11:1 about Faith—
Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
Young’s Literal Translation puts it this way: “And faith is of things hoped for—a confidence; of matters not seen—a conviction.” With this as the definition of Faith, answer these questions this week and consider it your homework:
- Where are you showing Faith in your life? Remember that faith isn’t when you know the outcome, but when you have confidence that God is there with you.
- What are you NOT willing to do either because of your fears, or you are unwilling to pay the price? The fear of failure and selfishness prevents us from experiencing the power of Faith.
- Is there some change that might happen in this church that makes you nervous or uneasy or that you simply do not want to see happen? Church, as we have all known it, is changing. It will never be the same, But It Will Be Better. God is prepared for this moment. But to see it, you have to make a commitment to it—and that’s where faith comes in.