“Living by faith includes the call to something greater than cowardly self-preservation” (J.R.R. Tolkien). Tomorrow with our junior high students we will be looking at 1 Samuel 23. David faces a choice: his own safety or the salvation of others.
There is a time for strategy. There is a time for planning. There is a time to shelter. There is a time to gather. And there is a time to take a risk. God asks David to save the city of Keilah and to trust that he (God) will save him (David) from Saul. It requires faith and decisive action on David’s part. David can’t act for the salvation of Keilah while dwelling on the danger that Saul poses. If he had, David likely would have failed to save Keilah and might even have lost to Saul.
God gives us opportunities. He gives us chances to act for the salvation of others and we have to act. We have to trust that he will take care of whatever danger the action itself will present. It’s easy to forget that faith in God is dangerous. Living here in the US, especially in the Bible-belt, we can lose sight of the dangerous nature of following God. We tend to consign danger to the handful of “called” missionaries that God sends to the “dangerous” places around the world while we are content with our safe lives.
We live in a real-time world and we are called to walk a real-time faith. We are called to have mercy and show compassion even when it isn’t “safe.” I’m not saying we should all be stupid, I’m saying that safety shouldn’t be the objective. The advancement of the gospel should be the objective. Can caring for an “orphan” be a risk? Yes! Can feeding hungry people be a risk? Yes! Can reaching broken people be a risk? Yes! Can sacrificially giving to the church be a risk? It can be a risk to our comfort!
Sometimes we are called to risk personal safety. “If we walk away from risk for personal safety, we waste our lives” (John Piper, A Call for Christian Risk). We are called to endanger ourselves for the sake of the gospel. We are called to risk personal comfort. Sometimes the risk isn’t so much a safety issue as a comfort issue. We give up our own comfort, risking our own desires for the sake of the gospel.
Theodore Roosevelt once said:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
This is especially true of the Christian. How sad would it be to live our lives never having risked anything for the sake of the gospel? How true are the words of Jim Elliot? “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” We cannot lose! We are saved, guaranteed the grace of Jesus Christ. So take a risk. Dare greatly. Live in faith.