Summary: In a world of affluence, crime, war and terrorism, where can we find real and lasting security?
Security. Everyone naturally wants to be safe and secure. We want to be protected from home invaders, hunger, financial loss, spiraling medical costs, fraudsters and suspect businesses etc.
According to a recent poll of 997 adults (for Britain’s Woolwich building society), 34 per cent of women think an investment in bricks and mortar is the best measure of a secure long-term relationship. Only 13 per cent still believed in the merits of an engagement ring.
We want to be secure and we look for it in many different ways. And we want to be secure because we want to be free from anxiety, doubt and fear. We want to be able to go about living without having to worry too much about the things that might harm us or those close to us. And that’s fair enough.
But security can lead to feelings of overconfidence and even carelessness. Sometimes situations change, but people maintain their old attitudes of security – and sometimes hang on to a false perception of the real risks.
The question I want to raise this morning is, “Why do we feel secure?” “Where do we get our sense of safety and security from?” “In what do we trust and rest?”
People do many things in order to be free from anxiety. But most of these are just “security screens.” By that I mean some of the things we do to feel secure actually screen us from real safety, and keep us from experiencing true security.
By revealing some of these security screens, we will discover where true security can be found.
1. MAKING COMPARISONS (Amos 6:1-2)
Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple Computers, once explained how hard it was in the early days to sell his concept of a personal computer. He said …
"… we went to Atari and said, ’Hey, we’ve got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we’ll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we’ll come work for you.’ And they said, ’No.’ So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, ’Hey, we don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.’"
Atari and HP had a false sense of security. They compared Jobs outrageous idea of a PC with the products they already had and concluded, “We don’t need you. You haven’t got through college yet.”
Sometimes people seek security by making comparisons.
In this case big businesses were saying, “We’re ok thanks pal, what you’re offering doesn’t compare with what we’ve already got.”
And people have been comparing themselves to others for centuries in order to build up a sense of security.
In 750BC an ancient prophet called Amos observed this tendency in the nation of Israel. He wrote this ..
AM 6:1 Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come!
AM 6:2 Go to Calneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours?
The people of Amos’s day were boasting of their national security and power. They gained a certain level of confidence when they compared themselves to the nations surrounding them.
Now, almost everyone can find someone smaller, or not as powerful as they are. At work or around our circle of friends there are people who have less expensive cars, smaller houses in less expensive suburbs, lower paying jobs, or less education. And once we’ve worked that out, it doesn’t take too much to begin think we are better than others.
So making comparisons either upwards or downwards doesn’t make us secure, it simply reveals a level of insecurity in us. Yet people still lull themselves into a false sense of security by comparing themselves to others.
The danger for us in making comparisons is that it can make us complacent. We may start to think that we are better off than we really are. And it may even lead us to become stuck up and unconcerned or complacent about the difficulties other people face.
On the other hand we might become discouraged or resentful if we don’t have what others have. And we find ourselves saying, “Don’t worry, everything’s fine.” So comparing ourselves to others not only makes us complacent about the difficulties others face, and it can even make us complacent about the difficulties we face.
So comparisons don’t make us secure, they just hinder us with unhelpful attitudes.
But there’s something worse than that. When people think they’ve “made it” Amos, the ancient prophet, warns us to watch out, because our downfall may not be far away. He writes …