Good insurance and financial planning offer a degree of security. But true security is found elsewhere.
I recently saw an ad in a magazine that pictured a business woman walking through her front door into a dark living room. To her surprise, as she arrived home from work she didn't walk into an empty room — the place was filled with balloons and people wearing party hats. The ad read, "Real security is knowing that your only surprises will be good ones." It was an advertisement for Schlage, a home security company that functions under the motto, "Real security sets you free."™
This company markets its product based on a beautiful idea: True security gives true freedom. When I know my home repels every robber and killer, I have freedom to live each day in peace, free from the fear of invaders. Free from the fear of unwanted surprises. Free from fear. Real security offers incredible freedom — and who would turn that down?
Schlage is one of many American companies that devote themselves to offering consumers security, not just for home, family, and property, but for every sphere of life. Take life insurance, for instance. I don't know how many times an insurance agent has told me, "You want to make sure your family is taken care of if something happens to you. Buying a life insurance policy gives you peace of mind. It gives you the security of knowing your family will be okay."
Our culture breeds in us a value of security that spills into the way we make decisions, telling us we should base decisions on how and when we attain security. Today, many young single adults say, "I'm going to wait to get married until I'm financially secure." This priority results in our dependence on safety in our decisions and lifestyle, rather than on something more solid and enduring.
Relying on False Securities
The Schlage advertisement acutely reveals our desire for security and our culture's reliance on insurance and home protection agencies to provide a degree of security. In truth, we all have some fear of what might happen tomorrow and want to do whatever we can to prevent our fears from becoming reality.
But while protection companies provide concrete services that stabilize our lives, they can't ensure a thief will never break into your home. They can't stop the erratic driver who hits your car. They can't make certain your family will be emotionally cared for when you die. They can't guarantee that money will always buffer your bank account after you get married. They can't promise real security.
The writer of Ecclesiastes betrays the false hope in these securities. Listen to the ancient words of the Preacher: "For there is a time and a way for everything, although man's trouble lies heavy on him. For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be? No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death" (Eccl 8:6-8a, ESV).
No human can predict "what is to be" and "how it will be," which means no human can provide true security. In this fallen sphere plagued by original sin, we slalom through the world with the weakness of an inevitable tumble off course. In this fallen world, we unavoidably shoulder insecurity about tomorrow.
Since no one knows the future, and since the future in a sin-saturated world promises at least some pain, the human promise of security lacks a foundation. What we need is a true security that frees us to live in this fallen world — overcoming the tumbles along the way. That assurance is available when we learn to trust.
Finding Real Security
True security is the promise of final freedom from danger. At most, companies can only offer limited security because ultimately everyone dies and because in a world where so much hatred and selfishness drive human decisions, breaches of safety are bound to occur along the path to our last breath.
But even now, in this fallen world, we can find true security because it is based not on a world gone awry, but on the hope of what lies beyond. God's promise that believers in Jesus will share in the resurrection of Christ (Rom 6:1-11) is the basis for our security now — not that we will never experience pain in this world, but that "the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed in us" (Rom 8:18) and that in the new heaven and new earth, "death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore" (Rev 21:4).
True security, then, is found in trusting God through current circumstances with a view toward the final hope we have in Christ.
Three months prior to graduating from college, I began an intensive search for a job. I prayed daily that I would land a job to begin right after graduation. I wanted "job security," and when it didn't come in my planned timing, I lost trust in God. For the next three months I floundered in my faith, wondering why God wasn't coming through for me. I worried that my new wife and I wouldn't have the money to make it or that one of us would get sick or injured when we didn't have health insurance.
When I finally found a job three months after graduation, I felt secure again, but I also learned that I had really been secure all along. A loving Father held me in his hands with complete control over my circumstances. In the midst of life's uncertainty, I could have security — freedom from fear — by trusting in the sovereign God of the universe, who promises to care for his people (Matt 10:29-31) and give them final freedom in Christ.
Security is found not in blind trust, but in faith in the promises of God, and faith in God is a discipline Christians continually must exercise in this life. With faith comes peace and a matchless security based not on limited marketing slogans, but on the reliable promises of God.
Making Sense of Christian Security
How do we reconcile American practices with true security? The reality of faith in Christ doesn't negate wisdom: Life insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, home protection, and financial planning often make a good deal of sense. But it is the reliance upon these policies, services, and practices that hampers our spiritual progress.
How do we practically express faith in God instead of in false securities? It will be different for each of us. Maybe you don't need such a low deductible on your auto insurance. Maybe your life insurance coverage is too high. Maybe it's time to get married even though you still have college debt.
Or maybe you just need to transform the way you think about trust so when you face disappointment or disaster, your faith doesn't crumble since it's grounded not in an insurance plan, but in the constancy of God our Father, the sovereign Creator of all things, and in his Son, who has overcome all evil through the resurrection, and in the Holy Spirit, who has sealed us with the promise of our future, final redemption from sin, pain, and death.
I think Schlage makes a good point: True security does give true freedom. And we can have true freedom now, in any and every circumstance, when we place our faith in the only true security — the Triune God who promises Christians a future free from
Copyright 2007 David Barshinger. All rights reserved.