BLESSING #20: The Blessing of a Biblical Perspective on Risk
“There is a warning. The path of God-exalting joy will cost you your life. Jesus said, ‘Whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.’ In other words, it is better to lose your life than to waste it. If you live gladly to make others glad in God, your life will be hard, your risks will be high, and your joy will be full. This is not a book about how to avoid a wounded life, but how to avoid a wasted life. Some of you will die in the service of Christ. That will not be a tragedy. Treasuring life above Christ is a tragedy.” (John Piper)
If your lost friend were to ask you, “What’s the best part about being a follower of Jesus?”, what would you say? Of course, salvation would be the first answer most of us would give. But what might be the second or third matter you would state? What are some of the other blessings you enjoy which your unsaved friend doesn’t have? Yet.
We’ve already seen a number of benefits of being a Christian, but one that perhaps doesn’t occur to a lot of us is that of being able to take risks for the kingdom of God. I believe that as followers of Jesus —
20. WE HAVE A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE ON RISK!
Life is risky, isn’t it? We’re not to live foolishly, but the very idea of living a totally risk-free life is impossible. At any moment in our lives we might become the victim of a crime, be overcome by an unexpected disease or disability, or be treated unkindly by our godless culture. These outside forces often pose great and unavoidable risks to us.
THE BLESSING But can we put ourselves at risk? Should we? In his book Risk Is Right, Pastor John Piper makes the very critical point that it is better to lose your life than to waste it! What are the risks that a believer is free to make? Here are a few that occur to me: Sharing the gospel with the possibility of being rejected by one’s friends. Serving the Lord in far-flung places in the world where people eat what people were never intended to eat! Standing for truth when such a stance will lose one a promotion or even get one sued! Being faithful in one’s marriage even when one’s spouse has bailed out of their wedding vows. These are worthwhile risks that the unbeliever knows little to nothing about.
THE BIBLE People in the Bible were constantly at risk. The Psalmist David frequently cries out to the Lord to save him from those who want him dead. The early Christians laid down their lives for the gospel — and thought such to be a privilege! In Scripture we read of “men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”(Acts15:26). The Apostle Paul refers to Priscilla and Aquila as “my co-workers in Christ Jesus [who] risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.” (Rom. 16:3-4). In Philippians 2 Paul speaks about his fellow laborer Epaphroditus who
“longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill . . . and almost died. But God had mercy on him . . . 28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety. 29 So then, welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him, 30 because he almost died for the work of Christ. He risked his life to make up for the help you yourselves could not give me.”
We may pray like the Psalmist in Psalm 16, “Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge” (v. 1). It’s not wrong to ask God to keep us safe, but not risk-free! We believers are blessed with knowing that this life is not the only one that is, that we might well lose our lives for the gospel, and that such a sacrifice will be well worth it. The unbeliever does not have this “blessing.”
ACTION STEPS 1. Ask yourself the question, “What risks am I willing to take for the gospel? Perhaps I need to begin with apologizing to my family or friends for failing to live as I should before them. Take one risk this week which you know will glorify the Lord. And share your experience with another believer.
2. Learn about a missionary or missionary couple this week who are serving the Lord in a dangerous place. Ask them about this issue of risk. Commit yourself to pray for them and their safety as they risk their lives for the gospel.
3. Read Piper’s book Risk Is Right. Take notes on your reading and discuss the book with a Christian friend or two.
PRAYER 4. Pray for your lost friend that he will understand that the highest goal in life should not be one’s physical or emotional survival. Express to him that some things are worth dying for. (879 words)