Real Christianity is risky business.
- “Barnabus and Paul: men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:25-26).
- “Priscilla and Aquila: who for my life laid down their own necks” (Romans 16:3-4).
We respect Paul and Barnabus for their courageous ministry. We also admire Priscilla and Aquila, a husband/wife missionary team, for their Kingdom work. These people were risk-takers. In fact, they “hazarded their lives” and “laid down their own necks” for the sake of His name!
That’s convicting. As I look at my own life, I have found that our cautious culture has crippled my Christianity. Rather than bold forays for Kingdom causes, I tend to retreat into Christian huddles and debate standards, labels, or exegetical minutia. Risk-taking is an alien concept, a bit extreme actually. It’s the kind of extreme reserved for the missionary biography kind of people. Not me.
Where is Gospel risk-taking today? Where are the Hudson Taylors, starting missionary organizations with no promised financial support? Where are the John Patons, disregarding ‘wise’ counsel and obeying God’s call to cannibalistic islands? Where are the David Livingstones, trekking lion country to reach the unreached with the Good News? Where are the Adoniram Judsons, openly starting a Bible study in a hostile pagan environment? Where are the C.T. Studds, who preferred to run rescue shops on hell’s doorstep than living within earshot of church bells? Where are the Jim Elliots, leading his family and others into danger-infested jungles because there were people living there who hadn’t heard Jesus’ name?
We have given in to a timid Christian culture where the “safe,” “wise,” and “cautious” trumps biblical-risk taking. Obviously, risk for risk’s sake is foolish and presumptuous. But risk for the Kingdom’s sake is biblical and right. There may have been a day when more ‘caution’ was necessary to balance foolhardy ventures by thoughtless believers. But today, that is not our problem. As Francis Chan writes, “God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”
‘Caution’ and ‘wisdom’ may just be our pious-sounding evasion of a risk-filled Christian life. Our philosophy of risk is misaligned with the world’s ideal of safety, security, and materialism. Based on the biblical model, I would suggest that the correction we need is to return to Christlike risk-taking—a God-inspired, faith-filled, grace-empowered passion for God’s Kingdom. Sacrificing my money, my job, my health, or even my life is a small price to pay for God’s glory.