I’ve been banging on about courage and risk for some time now, and this will continue to be necessary so long as the world keeps banging on about fear and safety.
It is no burden to repeat myself, and it is good for you (cf. Philippians 3:1).
Alongside the godless benediction, “have fun”, we now have a knee-knocking generation of panicked women from both sexes whose lame chant is, “stay safe”, whenever someone heads for the door. The obsession is real, it’s consuming and is shaping the character and future of both young and old.
There is a point, and it’s a point we passed some time ago, a point marked clearly on the road shortly before the cliff we are now dangling from, at which risk aversion becomes a sin.
Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you… (Luke 19:20)
The wicked lazy servant set out to protect himself by burying his talent rather than putting it to work in the open market, and the one thing he did not successfully do was protect himself.
And he said to those who stood by, “Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas”. (Luke 19:20)
Risk is real. Life is a daring adventure. But the danger we are taught to flee in scripture is typically limited to the wrath of God and sin (Jeremiah 51:6, Matthew 3:7, 2 Timothy 2:22).
Both of which we address by running to God.
The greater emphasis for the saints in scripture is not to run but to stand firm. To stand firm in the face of persecution, temptation, and fear itself (Matthew 10:28, 1 Corinthians 16:13, Ephesians 6:11, 1 Peter 3:6).
Risk aversion is a sin when it uses false wisdom and compassion as a cloak for our fears. It’s a sin when it causes us to run with, or to, the world.
It’s also a sin when it’s used as an excuse for our laziness.
The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!” (Proverbs 26:14)
Bungee jumping not withstanding, it is no sin to take risks when those risks mean living in faithful obedience to God, going to work, feeding our kin, serving for our neighbours good and proclaiming His love in word and deed.
It is no sin to nurse the needy, even if that means risking your own health. It is no sin to walk into the lions den for your faith or defy the world’s injunctions on what you should and shouldn’t eat, where you should and shouldn’t go, what you should and shouldn’t do.
We are taught that constant danger exists, ‘somewhere out there’, and that we must not risk being called a fool for our faith. But the real risks in life are much nearer the heart. The real dangers are our cowardice and our compromise with the standards of this world and its feeble offer of salvation and deliverance.
There is a lion in the streets, and it’s desire is to overcome you. But doona therapy and safe spaces are no solution. Repentance and an obededient faith are.
Jesus came into the world to give us life, and give it abundantly. That abundance consists of courage to face our mortality, our sin and our fears, and endure the scorn of the world for the joy set before us.
‘Have fun’, ‘be safe’. These are the doctrines of devils. Be strong, be courageous, these are the doctrines of God, for the joy of the Lord is our strength.
So walk the streets in this humble and obedient strength.