When did you last take a risk, and do something that scared you? I’m not talking about catching a spider (argh!) or crossing a road at a busy junction (don’t!) or being rude to your mum (dangerous!). But when did you last take a risk as a result of your faith?
Luke records what Apostle Paul was up to in Acts 20. The chapter starts with the phrase ‘when the riot was over’ – that sets the scene well. Whilst on his travels he met with the church leaders from Ephesus and said:
“You know that from day one of my arrival in Asia I was with you totally – laying my life on the line, serving the Master no matter what, putting up with no end of scheming by Jews who wanted to do me in. I didn’t skimp or trim in any way. Every truth and encouragement that could have made a difference to you, you got. I taught you out in public and I taught you in your homes, urging Jews and Greeks alike to a radical life-change before God and an equally radical trust in our Master Jesus. But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I’mcompletely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won’t be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead…” – Acts 20:18-24 MSG [emphasis added]
Now that’s a man who was prepared to take risks. He wasn’t out for an easy life – and he didn’t have one once he decided to put his faith & trust in Jesus. He discovered that following Jesus is a risky business.
You were made for an adventurous life in the active and present Kingdom of God. But that requires a bit of risk on our parts. Try things. Get uncomfortable. Explore. All the while listening to God and paying attention to his direction. Living radically – living differently. You don’t have to aim to be like Paul immediately. You can start small and work up to imprisonment ;o) but don’t settle for an ordinary life – you were created for so much more. When we step out in faith, trusting that the Holy Spirit goes ahead of us & within us, we see that God is at work. But we need to take some risks.
A while ago a friend of mine tweeted this:
Haven’t had a death threat for a while so I guess I better up my game in the loving others stakes and offend the evangelicals a bit more
— Gemma Dunning (@gemmadunning) March 7, 2014
She’s a ‘bit of a Paul’ kind of person. How about you? Laying his life on the line…no matter what, because of his radical trust in Jesus. Paul knew he was in for a rough time, but he was obedient to what God called him to do. Talking about the trouble he was going to face he said:
“But that matters little. What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.” – Acts 20:25 MSG [emphasis added]
What might that look like for you? How can you demonstrate a radical trust in Jesus by letting everyone you meet know about God’s extravagant generosity? It doesn’t always have to involved getting into trouble (but sometimes it will).
– When did I last take a risk & scare myself by doing something Jesus commanded me to do?
Action: [try one or two of these]
– offer to pray for someone – do it out loud with them present (don’t wait until later) / ‘ask and it will be given‘ – Jesus
– demonstrate extravagant love for someone / ‘by this they will know that you are my disciple‘ – Jesus
– pray for someone you’ve fallen out with, then text them and let them know / ‘God has given us the ministry of reconciliation‘ – Paul
– bake a cake and take it round to one of your neighbours / ‘love your neighbour as yourself‘ – Jesus
– write a sincere thank you note to a teacher or someone who has had a positive influence on you / ‘encourage one another and build each other up‘ – Paul