He executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. -Psalm 146:7-9

Friday, August 29, 2008

Taking Risk

2 Samuel 10:12
Be of good courage and let us play the man for our people, and for the cities of our God; and may the Lord do what seems good to him.

My subject this morning is risk and the cause of God. I define risk very simply as an action that exposes someone to the possibility of loss or injury. If you take a risk, you can lose money, you can lose face, you can lose your life. And what's worse, if you take a risk, you may endanger other people and not just yourself. You may lose their money. Their life may be at stake.

Will a Wise and Loving Person Risk?

"Will a wise and loving person, then, ever take a risk? Is it wise to expose yourself to loss? Is it loving to endanger others? Is taking risks unwise and unloving?

Maybe. But maybe not. What if the circumstances are such that not taking a risk will result in loss and injury? It may not be wise to play it safe. And what if a successful risk would bring great benefit to many people and its failure would bring harm only to yourself? It may not be loving to chose the comfort of security when something great may be achieved for the cause of God and for the good of others.

Risk Is Woven into the Fabric of Our Finite Lives

Why is there such a thing as risk? The reason there is such a thing as risk is that there is such a thing as ignorance. If there were no ignorance, there would be no risk. Risk is possible because we don't know how things will turn out.

This means that God can take no risks. He knows the outcome of all his choices before they happen. And since he knows the outcome of all his actions before they happen, he plans accordingly. His omniscience rules out the very possibility of taking risks.

But not so with us. We are not God; we are ignorant. We don't know what will happen tomorrow. God does not tell us what he intends to do tomorrow or five years from now. Evidently God intends for us to live and act in ignorance and in uncertainty about the outcome of our actions.

He says to us, for example, in James 4:13-15,

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain"; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that."

You don't know if your heart will stop before this service is over. You don't know if some oncoming driver will swerve out of his lane and hit you head on as you go home. You don't know if the food in the restaurant may have some deadly virus in it. You don't know if a stroke may paralyze you before the week is out. You don't know if some man with a rifle will just start shooting at you at the Southdale Mall. We are not God. We do not know about tomorrow.

And therefore risk is built right into the fabric of our finite lives. You can't avoid risk even if you want to. Ignorance and uncertainty about tomorrow is our native air. All of our plans for tomorrow's activities can be shattered by a thousand unknowns whether we stay at home under the covers or ride the freeways.

Exploding the Myth of Safety

My burden this morning is to help explode the myth of safety, and to somehow deliver you from the enchantment of security. Because it's a mirage. It doesn't exist. Every direction you turn there are unknowns and things beyond your control.

And the tragedy is that in the deceptive enchantment of security (where we take risks for ourselves everyday without knowing it!) we are paralyzed to take any risks for the cause of God, because we are deluded and think it may jeopardize a security which in fact does not even exist.

The way I hope to explode the myth of safety and to disenchant you with the mirage of security is to simply go to the Bible and show you that it is right to risk for the cause of God."

-John Piper( Dont Waste YOur Life)
"Christ calls us to take risks for kingdom purposes. Almost every message of American consumerism says the opposite: Maximize comfort and security - now, not in heaven. Christ does not join that chorus. To every timid saint, wavering on the edge of some dangerous gospel venture, he says, "Fear not, you can only be killed" (Luke 12:4). Yes, by all means maximize your joy! How? For the sake of love, risk being reviled and persecuted and lied about, "for your reward is great in heaven" (Matthew 5:11-12)....."-- John Piper