Ready for the Risks?

Life is a risk, whatever we choose to do. But when we choose the life of faith and living for God and His coming KINGDOM, there will be risks. They are good risks, because they make us better; but while we are gaining for the life to come, we have to realize there is something to give up. Are we prepared for them?

Those who believe they are “saved” would readily reply that when Jesus comes into your heart, the risk is gone. He takes over, and from there forward, it is all positive. Once you are saved, that’s it! You have it! No more fear of loss, or want, or worry.

But if we read the Bible carefully, honestly, and see the experiences of others, we see clearly that living for Christ is a commitment. And a commitment is a risk, a loss at the moment—for greater gain ahead. But at the moment it is not all trouble-free. There are mountains to climb, rivers to cross, evils of our nature to overcome. Else why did Paul say,

Romans 12:21  21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Don’t be overpowered by the wrong side! It’s real, there ARE risks. Especially now.

WHAT ARE THE RISKS of living our faith in today’s world?

1- First, it is the great divide between Christ and the world. They are going in two opposite directions. Listen to the apostle John:

1 John 2:15–17  15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 17And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

This world “passing away.” Christ is soon to bring in an all-new world, worldwide. Are we to put our faith in the world that is COMING and NOT the world we are IN? Exactly!

2- Then there is the risk of marching to a different drummer. It is a drumbeat not even heard by those outside. Jesus said of His disciples,

John 17:16  16They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

They, like Jesus, were following a different drumbeat. They represented a different culture, a different speech, a whole different view of the world and life. It is a future-not-present philosophy that sees everything here as passing away, and everything future as SURE. Paul had that far vision right up front in his mind:

2 Corinthians 4:17–18  17For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

Then there is:

3- The risk of losing friends, or support, or deserved credit.

John 15:19  19If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

If in business, there is always the risk of incurring disfavor when you adhere strictly to principals of integrity. When Sister Margaret and I were in business, we were asked to give the company hiring us “samples” of the product we were printing for them. There was the immediate question: should we produce “special” pieces as samples for the customer? Or should we let them be “come as they may,” field run samples? As I recall, we chose to take the “samples” straight from the run—at the RISK of losing the contract to a competitor who might want to impress the customer by providing absolutely “perfect” samples.

If your integrity shows up their lack of it, they may not be friendly. This is where we must remember our commitment is to God, and our standards are dictated by God, not by the ethics of typical business. What did Jesus say?

Matthew 5:37  37But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil [one].

No confusing the issues with “maybe yes, maybe no” to deflect those who might be listening. This only makes nonsense.

4- The risk of being misunderstood. Unaccepted. Rejected by former friends and family.

Luke 6:22  22Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake.

It is the risk of being maligned when we are innocent, simply because we have different standards and goals. It is the risk of losing reputation because of our higher goals.

Jesus said it in His Passover sermon to His disciples:

John 15:20  20Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

We know how they kept Jesus’ word—they rejected it. Paul put it in more general terms:

2 Timothy 3:12  12Yes, … all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

Paul added the details in his letter to Titus.

Titus 2:11–12  11For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,

Living “soberly, righteously, and godly” here and now is a risk in this world. It is not likely to get us close “friends” in this present age. They may feel we think we are “better” than they are. Definitions of “better” will vary, but the real fact is that we are accountable to a different standard.

5- The risk of seeing ourselves as we are.

It is not easy to know ourselves, nor is what we learn about ourselves always to our liking.

What we think of ourselves is usually—naturally—what we want others to think of us, not what we are in reality. This is what James said:

James 4:10  10Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

We naturally like others to commend us, but what did Jesus say?

Luke 6:26  26Woe to you when all men speak well of you.

This brings us to another risk in our life of faith:

6- The risk of CHANGE.

When we are committed to serving Christ, there will be change. There must be continual change. Change from the inside out. So much change in fact that we will be considered “new.” Others may prefer us as we WERE, but Christ wants us to become like Him. That means CHANGE.

2 Corinthians 5:17  17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

Not that it comes all at once, but as we see ourselves, we will keep changing—to become more and more like Christ.

Let our daily prayer be:

Psalm 51:10  10Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

As we become more like Christ and His family, all the risks will combine to give us a whole NEW view of the Kingdom, and at closer range.

The more we become like Christ in spirit, in character, in heart, the farther we will be from the pull of the earthly.

And someday, someday the risks will ALL be gone, nothing to fear or even imagine. What did Job say?

Job 11:16  16Because you would forget your misery, And remember it as waters that have passed away,

All will be merged into one everlasting, ever increasing JOY in the worldwide and eternal KINGDOM of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

May it be our goal today to BE THERE!

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