Is it safe? That is the question many are asking about church attendance, and also other public activities. But church is not supposed to be safe and harmless. Approaching the holy God is a dangerous task to be done in the highest reverence. God’s Word hits us hard in the pure proclamation of Scripture. We are killed by the law and made alive by the power of Christ’s resurrection.
Some do not want to reintegrate into society and live—too fearful of death. Death was always there and will come regardless of our efforts, because of sin, but never before have the young and safety-deluded faced death in a such a tangible way. Earthly death is not the problem though. Fear in the heart is part of worship: we should fear, love, and trust in God above all things. We face eternal punishment for sins, and only in Christ’s uncomfortable death for us is there release from hell and divine wrath.
Physical safety is not spiritual safety. Christ our Lord comes to us in the proclaimed Word to bring those dead, in darkness and fear, to life. He gives us His righteousness, His own life. Dying sinners come to be freed of death and sin—and to live in Christ eternally. We always face physical dangers, but we confess and show by our gathering together that our Lord is greater than all illness and Satan’s manipulations in this world.
Only freed from death and the guilt of our trespasses can we face the dangers of this world in confidence. We are to live in hope, love, and service to others, above death—not cowering in fear, waiting for death to have its way with us. Our Lord defeated death for us—that is our safety, not our attempts to stay on earth a bit longer. Heaven is our home—where there is no uncertainty, fear, or doubt. This is God’s message, which is not considered safe by sinners. But it grants us a hope which cannot be killed, no matter what happens to this body.
Due to external factors, bad habits have been adopted by some that may be hard to break. It is easy to think, “I’m ok without church or being a part of a congregation of sinners—I just want to stay safe”. Beware of what kind of safety you are trusting in: is it man’s or the Lord’s? Seek eternal safety in Christ, because your sin and false comfort with God is the far greater danger. Desire Christ’s body and blood offered freely to dying sinners—the very same offered up willingly to satisfy God’s anger at your sin. Find eternal safety living in Christ.
So while the world is only concerned with your bodily safety, know Christ is concerned foremost with your soul: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” There is no greater danger than to minimize sin and our need for the Gospel. Christ our Lord keeps us safe in the flock of the local congregation, gathered around the Word and Supper. The Son of God is not a virtual Savior, but the real flesh and blood Messiah, who left the safety of heaven to save mankind by His own sacrifice on the cross. This unsafe, foolish act is our safety in a world which is troubled and passing away. “It pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe.”
“Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. Now if the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, came with such glory that the Israelites could not gaze at Moses’ face because of its glory, which was being brought to an end, will not the ministry of the Spirit have even more glory? For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory” (2 Cor. 2).