“I can’t believe we used to walk around the neighborhood without pepper spray,” my friend said the other day before we took a stroll through the quiet streets by her house. I thought to myself that I go to Chicago unarmed at night and am safe. Apparently people had been stabbed in her neighborhood previously, but I was unaware that any danger existed.
Pepper spray, cell phones, pocket knives–people use these to “defend” themselves against unseen, potential dangers.
Disheveled strangers with cigarettes, the city, travelling to other countries, unkempt lawns and houses in need of paint, the dark, snarling hounds, mysterious animals in your backyard–people are afraid of these things. They legitimately worry instead of taking these things as normal and trusting God in the simple areas of life.
Why are people so afraid? I trust God.
I have talked to hustlers, male parking lot attendants, and even a murderer–all strangers at first, and I have been unafraid and unharmed. I carried no weapons to defend myself, for of what should I be afraid? What can man do to me?
If I should die, I would go to be with Jesus. It would be glorious! I’ll admit that I’d be terrified in the moment, but I like to think that I would evangelize to my murderer before my death. Proclaiming Jesus and His Kingdom is the purpose of my being alive, after all.
Regardless, I do like the buddy system. I feel safer in the city at night when I’m with a male friend. One of my friends from college walks alone on her way from McDonalds to a Thai restaurant in Wrigleyville on Friday nights, visits her homeless friend Linwood, and is unharmed. Is it wise for a woman to walk alone through the city at night? Maybe not, but she adores Jesus and trusts Him in everything. And she is safe. Am I fearful or wise in following the buddy system?
Sharing the Gospel in pairs is Biblical; thus, I believe the buddy system is wise. By going in pairs, you can help each other share the Gospel clearly and effectively. I truly believe prayer is sufficient for self defense.
When did Jesus’ disciples ever physically lash out at others to protect each other? Peter did once in the Garden of Gethsemane, but Jesus halted him and healed the man whose ear he had cut off.
Other apostles and disciples took abuse for the sake of Christ. When stoned, did they throw stones back? No. When whipped, did they use pepper spray and try to run away? No. When people spat on Jesus, stripped the flesh off his back, dug thorns into his scalp, and nailed his soft wrists to a tree, did he attempt to stop them or even make a retort? No, he suffered so that God’s glory might be made manifest through the ensuing salvation he brought.
Thus, in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, “defending” oneself is unnecessary. When we fear, we do not trust God.
Why do we fear? It seems silly to worry about our personal safety when we have Jesus, our God, to proclaim. God is our protector, too. As Psalm 118:6 says in ESV and as Hebrews 13:6 repeats, “The LORD is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?”
Fellow believers, I beg you to be bold in living out your faith. “(W)e are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls” (Hebrews 10:39, ESV).