Josh and I get many questions like this:
“Isn’t Mexico City the most dangerous city in the world?”
“Are you afraid of being kidnapped?”
We certainly don’t take and won’t take safety concerns lightly, as Mexico City can be dangerous if you don’t take the proper precautions. For example, like any big city, we shouldn’t go wandering off by ourselves in an unfamiliar or questionable area. And because we will look different, people will probably notice us a bit more than usual. Learning how to live in an urban setting safely is going to be part of our daily lives.
In light of recent events on the news last week, however, we are reminded that nowhere is safe. Random acts of violence, like the student at Virginia Tech who shot 33 students last week made us all question the safety of universities in the US. Terrorist attacks like 9/11 and the Oklahoma City bombing can catch us off guard and shake us to the core. And we drive something scary every day… over 42,000 Americans die in car crashes every year. Yes, there are people who work around the clock to try to make things safer, and yes, we can take personal precautions against dangerous situations, and of course that is right and good. But is anybody ever going to succeed in making the world completely safe? Nope. Not while we live in a fallen, broken, messed up world.
Should this information frighten us to retreat into our homes like hermit crabs to avoid the world? Should we live in constant paranoia and fear? I should hope not. Unfortunately the truth is that bad things are going to happen to each of us in our lives, whether they are on the local news or not, and I pray that we will each have the strength to make it through them. But God didn’t create us to spend our lives trying (unsuccessfully) to avoid bad things that happen.
In 2 Timothy, Paul is writing from prison in chains because of his preaching of the Gospel. He says boldly, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline.” (1:7), and he goes on to tell Timothy that, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (3:12). At the end of the letter, he expresses his hope even in dangerous circumstances: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.” (4:18)
No matter our location, life will be unsafe and difficult, and at times, probably disappointing and sad. But our hope as Christians is not in this world, or in this life. It is in Christ, and in his faithful promise of grace and eternal rest.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)