“Radical Risk and Radical Reward”
Jesus said to his followers, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” In this, Jesus clearly acknowledged that following him involves risking the safety, security, and satisfaction we look for in this world. But in the end, Jesus said, following him leads to a radical reward that the world can never offer.
This challenge for the disciples to lose their lives came at the end of a startling speech he made to them, as told in Matthew 10. Sending the disciples into the world, Jesus outlined the risks they would have to undertake in following him.
Go to need. Jesus told his disciples that they would be surrounded by great need. His instructions? “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons.”
Just imagine the people that the disciples were going to encounter—the diseased, the dying, the despised, and the dangerous. Not exactly the most appealing groups to be around. And yet people like these are the very ones Jesus is sending us to as well.
Go to danger. I can imagine the looks on the disciples’ faces when the next words came out of Jesus’ mouth: “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.” Jesus was saying to his disciples then—and, by implication, to you and me now—“I am sending you to dangerous places, where you will find yourself in the middle of evil, vicious people. And you will be there by my design.”
We don’t like to think this. We say such things as, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” But what if the center of God’s will is in reality the most unsafe place for us to be?
Jesus followed his humbling call for his disciples to go to great need and great danger with overwhelming promises of his love and care for them. Three times he told them, “Do not be afraid.”
Radical obedience to Christ does not lead to comfort, nor to health, nor to prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ, in fact, risks losing all these things. But we need not fear. In obeying him, we can look ahead with hope and confidence. For in the end, the risks we take will find their reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.
Do you believe the reward found in Jesus is worth the risk of following him? How will you live out that conviction?