By Joe Chesser
“Great deeds are usually wrought at great risks.”
Herodotus (484-430 BC)
“I believe that one of life’s greatest risks is never daring to risk.”
Are you a risk-taker, one who pushes the edges, or are you one who tries to keep it in the middle of the field? According to the quotes above, people have been talking about the challenges and benefits of taking risks for over 25 centuries. There have always been those who preferred to play it safe. And there have always been those who were willing to face the impossible odds head-on knowing that failure was more likely than success.
To create man in His own image, God knew He was taking a risk. He could have created us to blindly obey without the capacity to reason and choose, but He didn’t. Failure was guaranteed. He knew all would sin. He knew most people would not follow Jesus (Matthew 7.13-14). But in order for Him to be loved like He loves (by choice, not force) He had to give us the ability to choose. He knew that only a few would choose to truly love Him, but He created us anyway. He chose to take the risk.
On our part, choosing to love and obey God also requires risks. I’ve been trying to think of someone who walked with God without risk. Noah? Abraham? Joseph? Moses? Joshua? Rahab? Caleb? Gideon? Ruth? Samuel? David? Isaiah? Jeremiah? Amos? Jonah? Esther? Mary? John the Baptist? Peter? Paul? John? For every one of these people, to be obedient to God required them to step out from the crowd in faith and follow God. Noah built an ark; Abraham sacrificed his son; Moses confronted Pharaoh; Rahab turned against her own people; David and Caleb faced giants; Paul changed religions; Peter left his job; Joseph faced imprisonment; Elijah challenged 100s of priests of Baal; etc.
Is it possible to be a Christian without taking risks? The answer is NO! The common thread running through all of these great men and women of faith was not the deeds they did, but the faith and willingness to die to themselves and to do whatever God required of them. Our risk is to turn loose of ourselves and give our lives 100% to Him (Luke 9:23-26), to live by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7), and to let God determine what that involves.
Actually, the greater risk is to not be men and women of faith. "Be afraid of the One who can destroy both body and soul in hell" (Matthew 10.28).
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO. He may be contacted through the congregation's website.