“Safe To Be Me” is the name of a conference the UK government are organising in 2022 to promote LGBT rights around the world. I think the conference title is ingenuous. In just four words, it unites two big, popular ideas: safeguarding and identity politics, and rolls them into a moral agenda. “Safety” is the new value that our schools, churches, workplaces, and hospitals are busy applying. This kind of “safety” isn’t just about my body, but about my mental well-being. I must be kept safe emotionally from those who threaten my sense of “self”. The conference title then cleverly wraps identity politics up in that safety. Of course, who wouldn’t want to be safe to be themselves? No actual argument has to be made. And, hey presto! – for a society to make moral judgments on my sexual proclivities is unsafe. In fact, it’s worse than that; it’s harmful, threatening, vicious, and aggressive. So, the UK government, which is not known for its commitment to morality, is championing a new moral imperative: “I’m safe to be me”.
But Jesus Christ is the only person qualified to organise that conference, because Jesus Christ is the only human who can actually say: “it’s safe to be me”:
Every other human (on earth) is a threat to others and a threat to themselves.
Not even Adam & Eve in their innocence could say it’s “Safe To Be Me”. They had to watch and distrust their own judgment, when tempted to eat the forbidden fruit. The moral of the story is that Adam couldn’t say: “it’s safe to be me”! That’s why God placed the forbidden fruit in the Garden in the first place. Humanity has great dignity and value, but we must learn our dignity exists in a very specific way. Our dignity comes from our creation in God’s image (Gen 1:26). Human dignity is, therefore, not something to be grabbed, but a precious gift to be received. It was the lie of the devil which got Adam to try and grab dignity, but in so doing to lose it. This means I’m not safe. Even if I were innocent, like Adam, unstained by sin, my “self” would not be a reliable guide; as a creature, it’s always unsafe to launch out independently of our Creator. It’s never safe for me to define myself.
But now, none of us are like Adam in his innocent state. We’re in a much worse situation, cut off from God. Our human nature has now been seriously damaged by our sin. Our dignity isn’t an unchanging property; it’s now disfigured. Sin is a descent to the bestial. It makes us behave like animals, so that, before we know it, we’re deformed: “evil beasts” and “lazy gluttons” (Titus 1:12). My instincts – whether bodily or mental – are damaged. We pig out and wolf it down. We turn into cannibals, biting and devouring others (Gal 5:15). We’re like the prodigal son at the pigsty. This damage isn’t just what we can potentially do to others; it’s a broken relationship to ourselves. We’re muddled and confused, trying to dignify things that should embarrass us. We glory in our shame (Phil 3:19). The Bible talks about “the dishonouring of their bodies”, “dishonourable passions”, and “men committing shameless acts” (Rom 1:24,26, 27). There’s a clear “yuck” factor to the human body freely following any and every urge. The end result of me being safe to be me is not my glory, but my eternal shame and embarrassment, when I meet God in judgment.
So, it’s not safe for me to be me. It’s dangerous. I am a threat to myself. I’m my own worst enemy. The apostle Paul certainly didn’t think it was safe to be himself – “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom 7:18). Martin Luther said: “I’m more afraid of my own heart than the pope and all his cardinals”. It’s “Safe To Be Me” is the last thing I need to be told. I’m a loaded gun. Pull the trigger and I’m capable of doing great damage to others and myself.
But, there is one human being who can say: “it’s safe to be me”. Hallelujah! The Lord Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God, sent by the Father to live a human life before God of perfect obedience. After suffering the shame and indignity of the cross, he has been crowned with glory and honour. And he didn’t live that life for his own sake, but for our sake. He came to share his human dignity with us, ennobling us, raising us upwards. He crowns all who believe on him with glory and honour (Psalm 8:5; Eph 1:22-23). The good news Christians are sharing with the world is that Jesus humanises humans! Jesus dignifies our broken, crooked humanity, by restoring us to fellowship with God.
So, only Jesus Christ can organize a conference called: “Safe To Be Me”, because he’s the only one who can make that statement.
… And he has organized that conference! It meets every Sunday up and down this land. Everyone’s invited. But the condition of entry to Jesus’ conference is repudiating the devil’s lie that it’s safe to be me. The Christian “Safe To Be Me” conference (i.e. the church) invites everyone. But it’s core message is that it’s only safe to become more like Jesus. I must cling on to him as the only safe version of humanity, afloat in the chaotic ocean of my desires and thoughts. Jesus calls us to be converted. At this conference, his Holy Spirit begins to restore and renovate our damaged nature: “We all… are being transformed… from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18). But it’s not yet a place where it’s safe to be me. One day, you’ll be able to say it. Jesus has promised to glorify everyone he justifies (Rom 8:30). He “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21). One day, I won’t want to sin and won’t be able to sin, and then, finally, it’ll be safe to be me.
But the only way to reach that place of true safety is through joining the conference that Jesus is organizing.
You’re invited. The “Safe To Be Me” conference is meeting this Sunday, with branches all across the world. Will you come along?