No risk, no reward.
We’re often willing to take many risks in life. Financially we make that investment. Relationally, we reach out to that guy or girl we like. We send that text with our heart attached. We book that plane ticket. Interview for that job. Climb that mountain. Sign that mortgage. We know we might lose out or fall our face in the process of “risking it,” but we know what might be on the other side makes it “worth the jump.” You might be a “play it safe” kind of person, but you still take risks. We all do. Read a just about any self-help or business book, and you’ll find the message is unanimous: take a risk…you might fail, but get up and do it again until you make it. We know this “no risk, no reward” principle is true in life. We’re all willing to take a risk on a lot of things in order to gain whatever it is we desire.
But when is the last time you took a risk in your faith? Jesus is pretty clear about the call to follow Him. It’s all or nothing. It’s complete surrender. And yet, we often act like we can choose the “safe bets” with God. It’s easy to be afraid that if we take that jump, He might have us do something crazy, we might look foolish, or it may involve suffering. Again, Jesus is upfront about the call: yes, it will most assuredly involve suffering, He will probably take you somewhere you never imagined you’d be, and He also uses the “foolish things to shame the wise.” (1 Cor. 1:27) But it’s the most sure risk there is! He says that risking it on Him will bring eternal dividends. We can stop taking risks for our own little kingdoms and start taking risks for His. Maybe we forgot which kingdom lasts forever, or that our life here can count for something so much more than just for today, or 30 years from now. Eternity is a lot longer than our lifespan. So we are afraid to take a risk for an eternal reward, and yet we’ll waste our present on things that will last only a few decades at most? Let’s let that sink in for a minute.
I know it may sound a bit ridiculous to read about taking risks for Christ coming from me, a 30-year old suburban mom of (almost) three, living in a pretty ordinary south Alabama town. My street is quiet. My life is pretty normal. Apart from being a ministry family, and being a slightly (debatable) eccentric artist kind of person, I do pretty normal things. But that doesn’t mean I’m exempt from risking it all for Christ. We are all called to be “doers of the word and not hearers only.” (James 1:22) This means we cannot pick and choose what parts of Christ’s commands we’re willing to “risk” obeying, and which ones we’d rather ignore He ever said, or brush it off as “for someone else.” (I’m trying to keep preaching the truth to myself, even the hard truths.)
I gave my heart and my life to Jesus at 6 years old, and at different points surrendered to His leadings. At 14. I felt sure it was missions. At 17, I was off to Bible College for a contemporary worship degree. After going to Mexico, the Philippines, India and Africa, I was certain I’d end up somewhere far, far away from here. Even after God said no to seminary, Jonathan and I were certain our surrender meant something, to be honest, we liked better and found more exciting. But surrender is to HIS ways, not our own envisioning. Even though I am far from 100 percent faithful, I am determined to keep risking it all for Jesus. I may not end up where I had thought, but I doubt my life will be quiet or normal. We may lose everything, but I know we will be rich in Christ. Our kids may not have a typical or even “safe” childhood, but in faith I believe they will see and know the True and Living God. Jonathan and I may not have a weekly date night, anniversary trips or have a comfortable future together, but I know if we keep following God, by His grace we will serve together (whether side by side or apart) for a single purpose until we are old and gray, or part in death; we will be far more fulfilled in our relationship (and in life) than any trip or house or date could ever give us. Things, trips, normal living, etc, aren’t bad or wrong inherently, it’s just that we have in Christ and the riches of His kingdom are so much better. If we lack what the world deems important here, it really doesn’t matter because our treasure isn’t here. If we walk through hardship, trial and suffering, we are held fast by an anchor that is not effected by what happens here in this life. What is here is fleeting; what He offers is eternal.
No risk, no reward. Let’s be all in and risk it all for Christ. May we be so bold as to hear, take to heart, and follow everything He has said.
“Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it. For what does it benefit someone if he gains the whole world, and yet loses or forfeits himself?” (Luke 9:23-25)
“But Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)
“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:1-2)
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.
But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” (Luke 6:20-26)
“Seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:31-34)