Is life ever without risk? I think sometimes we may think that we can live securely without any risk. Is that real or just a mirage that we chase after believing it to be true. I’ve been working through a book by John Piper again. He has, I think, become one of my favourite writers aside from the Bible. The book is called “Don’t Waste Your Life” and it has been challenging my North American view on life, (“Living the American Dream”). The portion I have been reading through most recently has been about Risk. I going to start out by just listing the paragraph headings in chapter 5
“Risk Is Right – Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It
– What is Risk?
– Risk is Woven into the Fabric of Our Finite Lives
– Exploding the Myth of Safety
– “May the Lord Do What Seems Good to Him”
– “If I Perish, I Perish”
– “We Will Not Serve Your Gods”
– “I Am Ready to Die for the Name of the Lord Jesus”
– “In Every City … Afflictions Await Me”
– “If They Persecuted Me, They Will Also Persecute You”
– To Become a Christian Was to Risk Your Life
– How to Waste Forty Years and Thousands of Lives
– What About You?
– Risking for the Wrong Reasons
– The Power to Risk Is in the Promise of God
– Does God Really Supply All We Need?
– All You Need to Do His Will and Be Happy Forever
– I Can Do All Things Through Christ, Even Starve
– The Far Side of Every Risk, Triumphant Love
– How Can It Get Better Than Being Conquerors?
– The Only Road That Leads to Lasting Joy
Lots of food for thought in just the paragraph headings alone! What does it look like to risk for Christ? John Piper presented a few great examples from the Bible. Paul, being warned of the impending danger, continued on his journey to Jerusalem where he was put in prison which would ultimately lead to his death. Queen Esther approached the King without permission which was punishable by death to plead for her and her people. And Joab in 2 Samuel 10:9-11 formulates his military plan and had over the results to God in verse 12. “Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what is good in His sight.” This verse fits well with one of my favourites from Prov 21:31 “The horse is prepared for the day of battle, But victory belongs to the Lord.” God asks us to be a part of the preparing for battle, but the victory is in His hands alone. His victory is not always what we would consider victory as well. Looking at Paul’s death as and example, to us this is likely viewed as a failure or a bad thing but yet in God’s economy it was a victory. Looking at John the Baptist life and death may seem to be a waste. John takes a huge risk calling Herod out on his adultery and paid with his life. Was John’s life wasted? I don’t think so, as Jesus maintained a high regard for the work that John did including him losing his life over taking the risk of challenging King Herod. These are just a few examples I found of people willing to risk it all.
One of the great things of school this year is that at the beginning of every morning before class starts our teach asks for prayer request and prays. And then in the afternoon before that class we read a portion of scripture, and we have been reading through the book of John. And it was interesting as I was working through this blog post we happened to read John 11 and verse 16 stuck out to me as another example of someone will to take a risk. 16 “Therefore Thomas, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciple, “Let us go, so that we may die with Him.”” Thomas Loyalty very evident in this passage as he would rather be with Jesus and face the same peril than to carry on without Him. Now we now that the story didn’t quite end that way but I think it is still a good example of the loyalty that we should desire to have in our own lives.
I could go on with countless other examples in scripture and in history of individuals that were willing to risk for the sake of God’s Glory regardless of the outcome. One thing that I really want to learn through this current time of growth, is that it is not about me, or my family. But rather it is about the Glory of Jesus Christ. And I need to be so focused on this that I’m able to face whatever comes good or bad, and seek to bring Glory to His Name regardless of the circumstances and outcomes and take those risks. Some may think that we are already taking those kinds of risks as we venture into the mission field and in a way maybe we are. But I think that there will be much greater risks ahead of us only if we choose to place our complete trust in Christ. And with these greater risks God’s Glory will shine brightly. “All in” as some would put it. What am I willing to risk? What are you willing to risk for the Glory of Jesus Christ? It is so hard to risk it all isn’t, particularly when we have so much here in NA!
Those that read through this and would like to be challenged with ideas like this I highly recommend John Piper’s writings. Specifically “Don’t Waste Your Life”. Not to over shadow or replace God’s Word. John seems to be able to pull truths out of the scriptures that I tend to miss as I read through the scriptures on my own. I would like to close this blog quoting from John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life; the last section of Chapter 5.
The Only Road That Leads to Lasting Joy
“This is the promise that empowers us to take risks for the sake of Christ. It is not the impulse of heroism, or the lust for adventure, or the courage of self-reliance, or the need to earn God’s favour. It is simple trust in Christ –that in him God will do everything necessary so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. Every good poised to bless us, and every evil arrayed against us, will in the end help us to boast only in the cross, magnify Christ, and glorify our Creator. Faith in these promises frees us to risk and to find in our own experience that it is better to lose our life than to waste it.
Therefore, it is right to risk for the cause of Christ. It is right to engage the enemy and say, “May the LORD do what seems good to him.” It is right to serve the people of God, and say, “If I perish, I perish!” It is right to stand before the fiery furnace of affliction and refuse to bow down to the gods of this world. This is the road that leads to fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. At the end of every other road – secure and risk-free – we will put our face in our hands and say, “I’ve wasted it!”