I recently returned home from a mission trip in Guadalupe, Mexico where our group collectively went through John Piper’s book, Risk Is Right, during our morning devotions. The premise of the book is that taking risks for the Gospel is true Biblical Living, and righteous to do. In absolute reality, there was not a man or woman in the Bible who accomplished anything for God that did not take a risk in one way or another. The essential element of the Christian faith is trust in God. Trust is founded on then assurance that God keeps His promises in life and in death. The Scriptures assure us that He does keep His promises, and that those who believe this, against the weight of perceived reality, are the ones considered righteous before God. So the question for us is, do we trust Him? Do we trust Him enough to risk our life, or our possible death?
I would say that American culture has a tenuous relationship with risk. We praise those who have found success in taking risks, whether in business, entertainment, or other means, but, in general, we aren’t the type of people that would take risks, or support someone desiring to take a risk. The truth is that we love our comforts, our ease, and the safety of what we know. We worship control and mastery over our own destinies. We would rather live in the ease of obscurity then thrive in the failures of pursuit. Piper, in his book, argues that this type of self-assurance is a delusion.
The reality is that we take risks every day. Whether we’re driving, flying, eating at a restaurant, or even when we sit in a chair, we are trusting risking crashing, food poisoning, and the strength of the chair we sit in. The point is that there are no guarantees in life. You can leave your house and not make it back at the end of the day for an infinite amount of reasons. Despite this risk, however, we continue to drive, fly, eat out, and sit in chairs. We, at some level, place our trust that the manufacturer, pilot, chef, or carpenter all did, or are doing, their job well. We are trusting that what we use or where we go are safe and won’t kill us. Whether we want to or not, we are constantly taking risks. Life is Risk.
While life offers us no guarantees, there is a God who does guarantee Life. It is the paradox of the saving Creator. We might not be alive in this world tomorrow, but if we trust in God, then we can be certain there is life in the next world for eternity. This is the essence of Biblical Risk. What we are risking we will eventually lose anyway. Everything this world offers will inevitably disappear in death, and if our hope is in the things that are not guaranteed, then our eternity will also be death.
Jesus said it like this: “Everyone wishing to save their life will lose it, but those who give up their life, for My sake, will find it.” The power of the Gospel is that in it we find guarantees, and they are guarantees that are able to be kept by an omnipotent and faithful God.