What does a firefighter do? Our kids are all about firefighting – they know the difference between a truck and an engine, what kinds of ladders there are, and each piece of gear a firefighter wears/carries. Firefighters have two main goals: to get people saved and to keep people safe. Yes, they save people from burning buildings, but they also do an immense amount of work to prevent fires, thereby keeping people safe. In the picture here of a local firefighter badge, you can see the word “Penyelamat” – it comes from the root “selamat” which means safe, healthy, or good. (Sort of like “salaam” from other Arabic languages. The “pen” in front is a prefix meaning it is a job that a person does.)
The name on this firefighter logo – Penyelamat – is the same word Christians use for our Saviour, Jesus. Jesus promises that we are saved, that our ultimate well-being is in his hands. We are saved from the power of sin, death, and the devil. (Not that I believe the devil has a fiery furnace to threaten us – I believe hell is wherever God isn’t. Hell is where the devil is in charge, maybe even of the temperature.) So – when it comes to being saved, Jesus *and* firefighters are “penyelamat.”
But for keeping us safe, I don’t think that is what Jesus promises. Jesus actually asks us to take huge risks for his sake. Risks like sharing the Word when it is uncomfortable or even dangerous. Or giving our resources away, giving enough that we have to change our standard of living, so that others can have a little more safety, whether from food or violence or fear. Or opening our eyes to all those who need Jesus’ compassion – noticing the people who are counted as outsiders, and like Jesus, going to talk with them, eat with them, value them. The list of RISKS goes on. Jesus doesn’t promise to keep us safe from what people face in this world; actually, he calls us to be firefighters – to go into dangerous realities and reach out to people who are in fear or need. We go in Jesus’ name, as his servants, finding that risk can be thrilling, and it can be eye-opening, as we discover how much we have to rely on Jesus when we are outside of our comfort zone.
So – if you are a firefighter for Jesus, rushing into places where others think God is absent, what is in your turnout gear? What kind of trucks and tools do you need?