Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Survival is Not an Option

No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:15 (NLT)

School children hunching under desks, pedestrians crouching in gutters, and families hiding in backyard bunkers. During the Cold War, these iconic images were used to inform the public how to respond to a nuclear attack. It gave them hope they could be preserved through the horrors of an atomic holocaust.

Thankfully, the effectiveness of these responses never had to be tested in real-life. It’s a good thing, too. Somehow it seems doubtful a desk would have shielded anyone from the fury of a nuclear blast.

Yet, as comical and ridiculous as those actions seem, I’ve found this same ineffective mentality in my own Christianity. When it comes to the horrors of this corrupt world, I’ve found myself hunkering down hoping they pass me by. I choose not to see the homeless man on the street, offer a ride to the person walking in the rain, or aid the scared girl unexpectedly expecting. It just wouldn’t be convenient, safe, or fashionable for me to help. So I turn away, hoping to shield myself from the dreadfulness of their reality. Put simply, I try to survive.

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it. Matthew 10:39 (NLT)

But this mindset only offers a sham hope of survival by seducing me to live life for me. It tempts me to lay aside the responsibilities of a life lived under Grace. Unwilling to risk my wealth, reputation and life I surrender my mission to the spirit of fear. Stepping inside a bunker of false security, my vision becomes so distorted I can only view God as my provider rather than trusting Him as my sovereign.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. John 10:10 (NLT)

But to Jesus, mere survival was not an option. He met Zacchaeus in his home. He talked with the woman at the well. He sided with the adulteress caught in the act. He kept company with prostitutes, tax collectors, lepers, outcasts and the homeless. Where there was brokenness, Jesus got messy by picking up the pieces. When confronted with the corruption of this world, Jesus refused to shield himself from it. Rather, He engaged it to make the world a better place.

And try as I might, I can’t find an invitation in His example to live a safe Christian life. Instead, it prods me to emerge from my cocoon of self-preservation as a new creation, a living conduit through which Jesus once again engages the corruption of this world. For the Christian, this is the meaning of new life.

As a follower of Christ, His life calls me to do much more than survive. It provokes me to shake the world through the power of his example. And one thing I’ve discovered is that the Cold War strategy of “duck and cover” is just as ineffective at living Christ’s example as it was at protecting anyone from an atomic bomb.

So let’s climb out of our tidy Christian bunkers. Let’s love others by pressing through the shockwave of their pain. Let’s become soiled with the dirty work of rebuilding lives. And let’s allow the light of Jesus in us to outshine any fire that rages around us.

Truly we were meant to do more than just survive — we’re meant to thrive.

Copyright © Gregory M. Watson, 2011, used with permission.

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