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Safety Amongst the Thorns

The Absolute Protection of Faith

By August 12, 2021 No Comments

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–18, NIV).

We live in a world that often champions a desire for our loved ones to be safe, no matter the consequence. Even in the church, under a guise of altruism, love, or faith, it is not uncommon to see someone held back from fully engaging the world on Jesus’ mission for the sake of safety. Instead of emboldening Spirit-led disciples who are determined to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth, we tend to raise people in the church to be safe believers who do not risk much. Out of concern for their lives and wellbeing, we often hold people tightly in the name of Jesus and attempt to influence them so that they do not tread into the “unsafe” places of the world. Are such actions truly providing the protection we seek?

Looking to the life and example of Jesus, it is clear that our Lord modeled a different story for His disciples. The earth was not only full of principalities and powers out to stop Jesus’ work, but He even ministered to people who would ultimately demand His life in exchange for what they falsely considered safety. Yet, these daunting dangers were not enough to stop Jesus from coming to the world and demonstrating His obedient love to our heavenly Father. Jesus knew His mission and walked in love, no matter how dark a place He encountered. In knowing He came to die a sinner’s death, Jesus set an inspiring example which proclaims that true peace and safety are only found in Him. 

As believers, it may seem difficult or intimidating to hear the Lord call us to a life in the scarier corners of society; however, we have cause to only rejoice! Through the victorious and atoning work of Christ on the cross, we have been given the Holy Spirit through faith and are outfitted with wisdom and discernment. We may go into the world with that same love to continue Jesus’ work of demonstrating and declaring the gospel. 

Therefore, we must likewise make disciples who understand the pitfall is not where we go to minister, but instead that internal voice that capitalizes on our fear and attempts to get us to stay in the more familiar and secure spheres of the world. If we were called to comfort, would not Jesus have asked the Father to take us home? Instead, He said:

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–18, NIV).

It has been made clear, we are to be kept here, safe under Jesus’ name, sanctified in truth, and protected from evil. Yes, we will encounter evil as we follow Jesus in making disciples in all the earth, however, as uncomfortable or ferocious it may seem, this is nothing compared to the loving and mighty protection of the Lord.

As we grow and develop missional communities, we will be met with temptations to want to hold all those in our group so close that we no longer move, paralyzed in our own perceived safety. For a season, perhaps, such incubation is not an improper mindset as we must instruct, disciple, and love one another. However, let it never be forgotten that we are sent ones. As Jesus sends us on His mission, we must appreciate His wisdom that being sent is most effective in making mature disciples of Jesus who are spiritually ready to take on the greater things of the world. If we remain insulated in safety, are we promoting the most growth, or inhibiting spiritual development (1 Corinthians 3:1-3)? Therefore, let us guard our hearts and keep our ears tuned to the Spirit for guidance on Jesus’ mission. 

Although it may appear benevolent to want to overly protect those we disciple, we must understand that once believers are mature enough to follow Jesus on mission and listen to His Spirit, we are to let go and celebrate with them that God’s grace and faith in Him are the greatest source of safeguarding one could ever have. To relinquish control in such a manner is not an act of giving up or forsaking someone we hold dear, but is instead an act of deep faith and trust in God’s love, sovereignty, and the metamorphic power of the gospel message. Just as children become adults, so too do disciples become leaders in this world; running alongside each other in their going, yet always knowing they have someone to come back to as needed.

John 17:15-18 reveals Jesus’ own desire that His disciples are protected as they continue His mission throughout the earth. Therefore, let us truly live out the faith we claim, holding unwavering confidence in the Lord’s mercy. He guards the disciples of Jesus in grace, justice, and supreme sovereignty. May we model this faith and apply it not only in the confines of our own hearts but also to those who we disciple. For as ones who are sent, let us go, showing the world that there is no perceived danger it can muster that is too strong for Jesus to overcome.

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Leah Kate King

Author Leah Kate King

Leah Kate King is a student at Western Seminary, and has served on church staffs and with nonprofits for the last ten years. She is currently in a season of focusing on school and living on mission in the wonderful world of coffee.

More posts by Leah Kate King

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