Wise Risk: Part 1

I was a little crazy as a kid.  I broke my fair share of arms doing stupid stunts.  Roller blades crashes.  Bike disasters.  But of all the crazy antics I participated in, there was one that caused my mom to turn gray years earlier than she should have: street luging.

Above is a picture of me and some of my friends street luging.

The premise of street luging was pretty straightforward.  Sit on a skateboard at the top of an impossibly steep and long hill and go straight down while attempting to not die.  Watch for oncoming cars.  They had a strange habit of coming out of nowhere.

My mom hated us doing this.  No, hate probably isn’t strong enough of a word.  Loathed it.  She would sit looking out the window at us and was just petrified.  Even today when I bring it up she gets this funny slightly terrified look on her face when I bring up our adventures in street luging.

Although I don’t risk in quite the same ways I did as a kid, I’ve noticed something that concerns me.  Most Christians are not thought of as risk takers.  In fact, Christians in the US are often thought of as a safe people in a safety-obsessed world.  Many view Christians as wearing holiday sweater vests and driving minivans with Jesus bumper stickers on the back.  No offense to the sweater vest wearing mini-vaners out there.  I love you too.

But this safe image of Christianity is strange considering how risky it was to be a Christian for the first couple hundred years after Christ.  Strange considering Christians for the longest time were this crazy band of outlaws willing to risk everything–even leave their families and lose their lives–for the sake of Christ.  Instead, today most of us are like the rest of the country.  Doing our best to create a safe life.

Here is the crazy part of our obsession with safety.  It’s a mirage.  It’s a myth.  There is no such thing as a safe life.  Think about it.  No matter how calculated and safe you are, our plans could be shattered at any moment by countless uknowns.

Risk is woven into the very fabric of our lives.  Every time you get into the car is a risk.  Going to a public event is a risk.  Every time you put money in the bank or in your 401k it’s a risk.  Buying a house is a risk.  Spending money on a college education is a risk.  Every child we have is a risk.

Despite this, it is really easy to get stuck trying to keep up the illusion of safety.  And it’s exhausting.  And at its heart is fear.  We are afraid of what the future might look like.  So we calculate.  We plan.  We prepare.  We insure.  We wait for the perfect moment.  In the meantime, if we aren’t careful, the life God planned for us passes us by.

My prayer is that US Christians today would look a little more like the ones we see in the first century.  Because sometimes risk is wise.

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