Here are two concepts that often do not seem to mix well in our understanding of the Christian life: rest and risk. If you have rest, there would seemingly be no need for risk. And if you pursue risk, it would appear to be for lack of rest.
It’s the team ahead by 30 points in the fourth quarter that can afford to have its starting players on the bench. The team who is tied with eight seconds to go in double-overtime doesn’t have that luxury. To put it in Christian terms: If Jesus has done everything for the salvation of sinners (rest), it would seem as though we can kick back and relax (no risk). But if we’re supposed to endanger our lives for the sake of the gospel (risk), then it must because God wants us to prove something by our devotion (no rest).
But rest and risk are not incompatible. In fact, as Owen Strachan points out in his book Risky Gospel, it’s our rest in Christ that motivates us to risk for Christ: “The gospel message of Jesus’ saving work offers us the power to risk everything for him, and gain everything in him.” We are called to lay it all on the line, not because we have something to prove. It’s precisely the opposite! We’re called to lay it all on the line, because everything has already been proven for us! Our ultimate gain in Christ is already secure.
This is the soul-stirring message that pervades the pages of Strachan’s book. Although he is calling us to step in faith toward a life of uncertainty and sacrifice, he does so on the basis of our firmly established identity. We are new creatures. We are more than conquerors in Christ. We can be bold, because there is ultimately nothing to lose.
In fact, this is the irony of the entire thing. After sounding forth the call to live risky lives in the contexts of our families, our jobs, our churches, and our communities, Strachan ultimately observes that the risk God calls us to is really the safest thing in the universe:
We come, then, to this eye-opening conclusion: following Jesus by seeking to invest the gospel he has given us in this world is not a risk. All the force of Trinitarian power is behind us. Serving Christ in whatever calling he gives you is the surest work you can undertake in the world, because the kingdom of God will win and the gates of hell will not overcome it… When we come to faith, we gain everything. We get God.
So if your Christian walk needs a pep talk—and not the kind of thing that will wear off two hours from now—grab this book and let it catapult you into a life of bold sacrifice. You won’t find guilt. You won’t find empty promises. You’ll just encounter a fresh awareness of the magnificent opportunities that open up to you when your identity and your future are already secure.
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