Sunday, June 11, 2006

Is Sacrificial Love Safe?

The last two nights in a row there have been crazy people outside my apartment that have made me feel uncomfortable enough to sleep with my revolver next to me. Last night two people knocked on my door at 1:30am asking to use my phone! I didn't even open the door, just yelled sorry through the peephole. I feel kind of bad about that. I hope they are okay. It's hard to balance sacrificial love for people with common sense safety rules.

As Christians, we're commanded to show love to people--but so often my service of people is inhibited by these safety rules ingrained in me by my parents and society at large: don't pick up hitchhikers, never give cash to panhandlers (but food is okay), don't bring home homeless people to sleep on the couch, don't open the door to strangers or allow them into your home, don't let strangers into the church while you're there alone. There are a lot of safety rules!

On Thursday this guy showed up at the church and asked to come in and talk with me. I explained that it was against church policy for me to let anyone inside the church while I was there alone, then I went out on the porch to talk to him. To make his long story short, him and his wife were stranded with no money to get back to their home near Seattle. After calling the treasurer, I had to explain to the man that our church doesn't help out with transportation. He sat down on the porch and began to cry. He'd been walking around town all day going to churches and social service agencies but no one would help. It took me an hour, but I was able to find a friend who could drive the guy to get his wife and take them to the bus station (I couldn't leave because youth group was starting soon). So this guy was hungry and tired and waiting for my friend to show up, and I wasn't supposed to let him into the church for "safety" (mine? the church's?). So, I ended up hauling an easychair from the library out onto the porch. The neighbors probably thought it was strange seeing a tired, disheveled man sitting in a pink floral easy chair on the porch of the church--but at least he was able to rest his feet!

Anyway...I'm so confused about safety. When Jesus hung out with theives and prostitutes, was he taking some sort of safety precautions of which I'm merely unaware? Or could he have been more concerned about ministering to lost and hurting (and even dangerous?) souls than in procuring the safety of his person or posessions?

So those of you with families are probably thinking--but I have an obligation to keep my family safe! That's probably true, I guess. I'm just not sure where it says it in the Bible. Please tell me if you can think of a place. Was Jesus showing disregard for the safety of his disciples when he led them to minister among vagrants?

Oughtn't we love people in obedience to God and trust him to keep us safe? Of course, I suppose someone could say that buckling seatbelts or taking antibiotics is showing a lack of trust in God. So balance. Where's the proper balance? If you have any ideas, please respond! I just don't know. But despite all my love-talk, I'm still going to bed next to my .38 revolver.