In this era of polarized politics, it can seem like the best thing to do is to keep your head down and just do your thing – whatever your thing is. It’s called “playing it safe”. If we don’t say anything, we won’t offend anybody. If we don’t do anything, we won’t offend anybody. And heaven knows it’s easy to offend anybody nowadays.
But I think we who follow Jesus have an obligation, at times, not to play it safe. There are times when standing up for the truth of God’s Word matters more than playing it safe.
I was reminded of this when I read Mark 5 the other day. Friends of mine are, right now, in the Holy Land; one posted a picture from the Sea of Galilee. It reminded me of my own trip to Israel, and seeing the vast difference between the western shore (comparatively flat, where there are settlements) and the eastern shore (where there are steep cliffs). Atop those cliffs is the area referred to in Mark 5 as the region of the Gerasenes.
In the story, a possessed man has his demons exorcised by Jesus, and in a strange deal, Jesus lets the demons go into a herd of pigs grazing nearby. At this, the pigs head for the tops of those cliffs, and they plunge to their deaths in the water below. (I’ve always felt sorry for those pigs.)
The good news is that the demon-possessed man was cured. The bad news is that those who made their living from herding those pigs were out of a job. And they were not happy. Then what happened? “the crowd began pleading with Jesus to go away and leave them alone” (Mark 5.17, NLT).
These people had just seen the Son of God heal a man thought to be unhealable, and all they were concerned with was the local economy. Jesus’ presence could change their lives forever, but they sent him packing, because Jesus was bad for business.
The Gerasenes played it safe and turned their backs on the Saviour.
Each of us can think of an occasion (or two, or three) where we played it safe and turned our backs on Jesus. But let me encourage you to forgo playing it safe so that Jesus can have the maximum impact in your life, and in the lives of others around you. Let him fully reign in your life, and watch what happens.