Safeguarding: A Reflection Of Our God

by | Mar 20, 2024

Why is safeguarding important to us as a church? Before reading any further why don’t you take a moment to think about this question.

There is a whole array of possible answers that you could give to this question. For example, “well, it’s a legal thing that we need to do, so I guess we should do it.” Or maybe, “In the past we never had any of this bureaucracy, but Iin today’s climate and society we need to do it, so we should do it.” Or maybe, “we need to keep inappropriate people away from working with kids and vulnerable adults.” I want to suggest that, as Christians, we’ve been called to a much greater vision of safeguarding than any of these. 

I love safeguarding! I think we’ve been called, as a church family, to be leading lights in the safeguarding world. Why? Because I believe safeguarding is a reflection of our God and his dealings with people. 

Let me give you three simple examples from the Bible:

Deuteronomy 10:17-19

“For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God, showing no partiality and taking no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the resident alien, giving him food and clothing. You are also to love the resident alien, since you were resident aliens in the land of Egypt.” (CSB)

Here in these verses, we see God comparing and contrasting himself with the ‘gods’ of the surrounding nations (e.g. God of gods). And, amazingly, one of the ways God distinguishes himself from all the other gods around is through his intentional care for those who are most vulnerable in society (the fatherless, the widow and the immigrant). Tim Keller, commenting on this, says, “So, from ancient times, the God of the Bible stood out from the gods of all other religions as a God on the side of the powerless, and of justice for the poor.” 

What does this have to do with safeguarding? Loads! Safeguarding is about ensuring that some of the most vulnerable people within our society – children, vulnerable adults and ex-offenders – are given a safe, appropriate and secure community to be part of. As we commit ourselves to the principles of safeguarding we’re embracing the culture that reflects our God! To relegate safeguarding to be purely a legal or tick box exercise is to misunderstand or neglect the nature of our God and his dealings with people.

Micah 6:8

“Mankind, he has told each of you what is good and what it is the Lord requires of you: to act justly, to love faithfulness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (CSB)

Notice how in this well-known verse that speaks about God’s love for social justice (or the care of those most vulnerable in society), there is an added dimension compared to the last set of verses we looked at. Here, Micah is explicit that we’ve not just been called to think about issues of justice but to do or to act! “Act justly, love faithfulness (which is another active description) and then also to walk humbly with your God”. Safeguarding, at its core, has the principle that each one of us has a responsibility to act. Together, we care. Together we create a community of safety and security as we each choose to see ourselves as having an active part to play.

Safeguarding means that we all are active participants in creating a community where the vulnerable are safe and secure.

Mark 12:28-31

“One of the scribes approached. When he heard them debating and saw that Jesus answered them well, he asked him, “Which command is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is, Love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other command greater than these.” (CSB)

Famous words! Words that you and I probably could quote. The whole point of these commands is that they work together as a description of the transformed life of a follower of Jesus. Firstly, love God above all things (that’s our vertical relationship). However, we’ve also then been called to love on a horizontal level (i.e. love those around us). In fact, our love for others is an authentic sign of the fact that we truly love God [ouch!]. As a result, loving your neighbours (like the children at Emmanuel Community Church, or the vulnerable adults who are part of the church family, or the ex-offender who wants to be part of the church family) are not optional extras to our devotion to God. No, these are practical examples of our love for, and devotion to, Him. To say we love God and yet we choose to ignore our children, vulnerable adults and ex-offender ‘neighbours’ is to prove that our love for God does not run very deep or may even be counterfeit (see 1 John 3).

So, church family, can I encourage us all to take safeguarding here at Emmanuel Community Church as an important and precious outworking of God’s love for the vulnerable and healthy expression of our love for our neighbour!

If you would like to find out more about our safeguarding team, click here

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