For today’s blog post, I want to recommend a novel that I read last year titled, Lost Mission by Athol Dickson.
One of the characters from the novel was the impetus for this blog post. Delano Wright is a wealthy Southern California landowner and businessman who faced two events in his life that shaped his character throughout the story.
First, his wife left him for their church’s Sunday School teacher. She was tired of their marriage and wanted more excitement in her life. (I would have never thought a Sunday School teacher would be view as someone exciting. Wow!) Second, Delano’s daughter (and only child) was killed in a terrible car accident.
From those events, Mr. Wright decided he will build his own Christian city for all believers in the area to emigrate to and they could be safe from the sinful, secular world. With his wealth, power, and influence, Delano believed he could finally make a difference and get God’s stamp of approval on his altruism.
I know some of you are wondering what a character from a novel has to do with real life and this message. Well, I would like to give you a definition of fiction to illuminate my point.
“Fiction takes reality and human experience as its starting point, transforms it by means of the imagination, and sends readers back to life with renewed understanding of the world around them.” (Leland Ryken)
Even though, Delano Wright was invented from a writer’s mind, his character and actions in Lost Mission brings home a reality I’ve seen in our modern form of Christianity.
When bad things happen or the world gets too dangerous, Christians want to retreat to their churches, bible studies, or other church-related activities to protect themselves from the big, bad secular world. Then we could look at the world from behind our church walls and criticize it without getting touched or dirty from its presence believing it won’t effect us.
Does retreating to our churches make us safe?
Jesus hung out with tax collectors and sinners in his day (Matthew 11:18-19). Who had a problem with his action? The Pharisees and their safe brand of religion they practiced at that time.
Paul spoke to people of Athens at the Areopagus in his day (Acts 17:16-32). Who had a problem with his action? Those same people as soon as he mentioned Jesus and his resurrection.
Twelve men were sent by Moses to spy in Canaan and see if the promised land was as God described it (Numbers 13:1-14:11). However, Joshua and Caleb were the only ones to give a good report and validate God’s description. Who had a problem with this action? The other spies and the Israelities whom God just freed from Egypt.
What do those three stories have in common? When God asks you to press into the world, the world will press back. Moreover, it shows that God is not safe, but we are safe in Him. Jesus, Paul, Joshua, and Caleb trusted God and knew He is the ultimate safety net.
Unfortunately, Delano thought safety would come from his wealth and power. And there many people in our culture who feel the same way. I would say to them look at our economy, the housing market and their 401(k)’s and ask are they feeling safe?
Hiding behind our church walls (or a church city from the novel) will never make us safe. And if you think so, then God is not the God whom He says he is. But, if He is whom He says he is, then we should know that our safety comes from abiding in him.