Eighteen years ago, I experienced an abuse of authority I still remember vividly. I was in college, playing ping pong in the student center, when campus security came to lock up. It was one o’clock in the morning, and I’d forgotten my dorm key. I knew the security officer well, so I asked him to let me into my dorm. We set off behind the building on a deserted path, and along the way, he held my hand. Before I knew it, his arm was around me, and he was touching me inappropriately.
I’m a poor judge of distance, so I can’t tell you how long the walk was, but metaphorically, it was the longest of my life. More than anything, I remember the feeling – shock, confusion, deep embarrassment. Humiliation, really. I kept rehearsing all the reasons this couldn’t be happening: This man was married, old enough to be my father, a professing Christian, and a security guard for goodness sake. At one point on the walk, he even said it was his job to keep me safe.
But then something happened that cut through all the lies. As he was rambling on, the officer suddenly mentioned my father. I have no idea why. He had never met my dad, but somehow the subject came up, and it jolted me like lightning.
For one clear second, I saw this man not through my own eyes, but through my father’s eyes. I imagined how my dad would feel if he could see what was happening, and just like that, I knew that what this man was doing was evil. It didn’t matter that he was a professing Christian, cop, husband and father. In light of my dad’s righteous love, I saw the truth.
In the end, I made it to my dorm. The next day, I confided in a friend who urged me to report the incident. The officer was put on probation, quit his job, and I never saw him again.
Without God’s strength and authority, there is no true safety.
The Key to True Safety
Most people who question whether God is really safe have reason to question. They have a story – a “someone” who was supposed to keep them safe, who hurt them instead. A parent who abandoned them, a spouse who betrayed them, a caregiver who mistreated them. Given the brokenness littering every story, it makes sense why we might mistrust, dislike, and even fear authority.
Am I really safe with God?
I would say, it depends who’s asking. Hebrews 10:26 says, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” The author of Hebrews is describing a person who “tramples Christ underfoot” by despising His grace and shed blood. About such a person, he writes, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).
Not the most popular passage of Scripture, but beautiful in its own right, for this reason: The very same wrath that makes God terrifying to unrepentant sinners, makes Him a haven for all who would come to Him, for without strength and authority, there is no true safety.
Think of it this way – if monsters invaded earth, would you rather be trapped in a house with Woody Allen or Vin Diesel? We crave strength, whether we realize it or not, because deep down – instinctively – we recognize it’s necessary for safety. This is why the Psalmist declares, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:11). Ultimate safety is only found in the presence of ultimate authority.
Is God Dangerous?
C.S. Lewis understood that “taming” God doesn’t make Him safer, just weaker. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when Lucy asks whether the God-figure, Aslan, is “safe,” Mr. Beaver replies, “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
Being dangerously powerful is only negative in tandem with wickedness. Combined with goodness, it’s the very definition of a hero – a Person worthy of worship. And consider the scope of God’s goodness: He who is Light, utterly devoid of darkness (I John 1:5); about whom the angels cry, “Holy, holy, holy!” (Isaiah 6:3); who stoops down to lift us up (Psalm 18:35); bottles our tears (Psalm 56:8); and prays for us with groaning too deep for words (Romans 8:26).
These two attributes – power and goodness – are crucial to a biblical understanding of God. Psalm 62:11-12 says, “One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: ‘Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love.’” Take one of the attributes away, and you’re left with either weakness or wickedness. But put them together, and you have a God mighty to judge and merciful to save.
To this day, I consider it a saving grace that God used my earthly father to give me a picture of God’s own character in a moment when I needed it the most. Am I safe with my earthly dad? Abundantly so. Would the officer have been safe with him? No.
So, I guess the question is, do you belong to God? Are you His beloved child, so woven into His own heart that His spirit groans for your good? (Romans 8:26). Or have you set yourself up against the Lord of Heaven? (Daniel 5:23). The answer to whether or not you’re safe with God depends entirely on that question.
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