The Romance of Risk
“and without faith it is impossible to be well-pleasing unto him; for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him.”
A couple weeks ago I took my first hike of 2017. Time in the woods is sacred to me. Its where I go and really listen to God. Everything is up for discussion. I was asking the Lord about my relationship with Heidi and one of the things I believe He put on my heart was the invitation to take extravagant risks on her. Dictionary.com defines romantic as “imbued with or dominated by idealism, a desire for adventure, chivalry.” Urban Dictionary states that romance is “doing something special or unexpected for someone you love even though you don’t have to.”
Does this define the Christian life?
I know that I often settle into a life that doesn’t want to do anything wrong and this often prevents me from living wholeheartedly and passionately. This tends to render me timid and passive.
This invitation to take extravagant risks has reshaped my thinking about the concept of faith. I’ve often understood it in more of an academic way; having a confident trust in Jesus that affects the way I live. But what if the way faith affects the way I live is more than just living correctly but an invitation to live romantically? To take extravagant risks? I bring this up because I think its time for the word “faith” to leave the comfy place of philosophy and step out into the wild terrain of practice.
If you look at the miracles of the bible there were two elements present: God’s activity, and man’s response. From God’s perspective these responses are seen as obedience. From man’s perspective it can often feel like risk. It is important to notice that God didn’t speak through the burning bush until Moses turned aside to explore it. Don’t think veering off course in the wilderness to explore a strange fire was without an element of risk and uncertainty on the part of the human participant. Then there’s the story with Moses’ staff, he dropped the staff and it became a serpent. It would not return to staff form until Moses reached down and grabbed it. I know how I feel when I even see a snake. To reach down and grab it by the tale would feel quite risky. What about Abraham? He heard God say “go to a land I will show you.” So he left not knowing where he was going. I know how valuable job security and land ownership can be for families. So this kind of a move probably made him look crazy to some of his peers. Although he was uncertain of the specific outcome he was confident in what God had said.
Notice that many of the people Jesus healed acted on their healing. The crippled man took his mat and walked. The blind man washed his eyes. The bleeding woman grabbed the hem of Jesus’ garment. Peter stepped out on the water. Paul went back into Ephesus after a near death experience by stoning. For all of these men, faith drove them to take risks and God met them with divine activity.
Now this is not an invitation for reckless living. There are other stories in the Bible of men who were careless in their faith. Look at the Israelites in 1 Samuel who just grabbed the ark of the covenant and went to war against the Philistines. They were defeated and the ark was captured. Then in the book of Acts there are seven sons of Sceva who begin using the name of Jesus as a magic word to drive out demons. They were eventually overpowered and assaulted by a demonized man.
What sets the reckless apart from the risk takers?
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge;
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing”
1 Corinthians 13:1-3
Love is the difference.
Which further proves my point that romance and risk are major components involved with faith. It is a cliché but true statement that love will make you do crazy things. It will motivate you to try new activities and share in new adventures . It will lead you to risky places of vulnerability (have you ever written a love poem to someone?). It will create in you a passion for what concerns the one you love. It is a life of freedom not a life of holding back.
So what risks are you taking? Are you stepping out onto the waters of sharing the gospel with your co-workers and neighbors? Are you turning aside to see the burning bush that is calling from another country.? Are you creating the songs, art, and poetry that God has called you to make? Are you loving your family extravagantly?
What is your faith calling you to risk?
Written by Ben Sadler