According to http://www.dictionary.com:
- Risk: “Exposure to the chance of injury or loss; a hazard or dangerous chance.”
- Faith: “Confidence or trust in a person or thing.”
Much of what I have to share below is taken from a lesson I taught in youth group a few years ago while we were studying John Piper’s book, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” It’s a great read, I very highly recommend it!
“Risk” involves two assumptions. First, risk involves some degree of ignorance. You don’t know what will happen or result from your action (or inaction). You cannot foresee the future, therefore you’re taking a risk since there could be a result that’s opposite of what you hope for. Second, risk assumes that living a risk-free life is possible to begin with. Driving to work or school can be risky. More people die from car accidents each year than from airplane crashes.
Just last month I emailed the former youth pastor from EBC and asked him how he dealt with “safety concerns” parents had about missions trips. His reply was only two words long: “Define safety.” Good reminder, Jim…
This being said, we need to prayerfully discern the difference between foolishness and faith-filled risk. To those who don’t have faith in Jesus Christ, these two categories will look to be the same thing: foolishness. As Paul wrote,“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14).
Below is a video of John Piper answering the question, “Should I consider not doing missions if it means constant danger for my wife?” His reply is specific to missions, but I believe we can easily apply his answer to Risk-Taking in general.
The following is a great article entitled “Dealing With Risk” by Christian missions organization Adventures in Mission. The article is not short and isn’t a light read, but if you are willing to really explore this relationship between Risk & Faith, then take a look.
- “If there is no element of risk in our exploits [actions] for God, there is no need for faith.” Hudson Taylor
- “Had Levi stayed at his post, Jesus might have been his present help in trouble, but not the Lord of his whole life.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We learn faith best when we’re forced to actually rely on God’s faithfulness. We must not “dare” God to rescue us by making foolish decisions, but when God commands we ought to obey… even if it’s risky to do so. In the process, we’ll find that our faith really does hold us and that God is as faithful as Scripture proclaims him to be.