Not Safe

     At the top of a week which saw observations as varied as All-Saints Day, Reformation Day, The Day of the Dead, and Halloween, I was thankful to hear a retelling of a seminal moment in Church history, specifically of the Protestant Reformation — excerpts of the speeches and prayers of Reformer Martin Luther. His famous, oft-quoted, closing words, that “…to act against one’s conscience is neither right nor safe…” struck me with even greater force than it previously had, as I was compelled to examine the profundity of Luther’s grasp of what constitutes SAFETY.

     There he stood, at the mercy of  a Council and authorities determined to incinerate not only his writings but his very person, yet he directed them to consider the danger he would be in should he violate the truths he had become convinced of, by the Scriptures, regarding God, Mankind and Christian faith.

     My local fellowship’s current focus on the book of Daniel was without doubt informing my own reflections here, and I cannot help but believe that that prophetic book’s great testimony had also informed Luther’s as he answered at the Diet of Worms. He, like the young Hebrew exiles, held firmly in his grasp the reality that burning to death while tied to a stake, being thrown into a den of hungry lions or cast into a fiery furnace was rather to be chosen than the eternally self-destructive action of denying the integrity and basis of the regenerating, transformative experiences of the soul that has tasted fellowship with the true and living God.

     And though there is a literal hell to shun, with its attendant physical tortures, heeding Luke’s counsel in chapter 12:4-5,
“And I say to you My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say, to you, fear Him!”,

their faithfulness (unto death!) was fueled by this even greater compelling motive:
     These, like Moses, of the throng chronicled in Hebrew’s Hall of Faith, were fortified by, “..esteeming the reproach of Christ as greater…for (they) looked to the reward…not fearing the wrath of the king(s); for (they) endured as seeing Him who is invisible”. ( chapter 11:26-27). A simple search in Strong’s concordance revealed that word ”looked” to be rooted in the Greek word ‘apoblepo’ – to look away from everything else in order to look intently on one object. The glimpse, which once engaged, grips you (like a ‘tractor beam’ of sci-fi films!) and locks you forever in the Gaze of the Terribly Beautiful One.

     It makes me feel the urgency, in these threatening times of our day, to check to see what has my conscience “held captive” – does the Invisible One have my gaze? And as we remember our suffering fellow believers this Sunday, marking the International day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, may our repentance, praise, petitions and supplications, indeed our very lives, be grounded in the SAFETY known only by captives of His Love as revealed in Jesus Christ of the Scriptures.
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