Risky Business

” . . . give your life . . . “

“The greatest love you can have for your friends is to give your life for them.” (John 15:13)

Patti and I were enjoying a walk on a bright sun-shiny day that made the West Virginia state capitol dome gleam like the sun when we spotted this little guy busily working in the freshly-budding trees.  He was one-of-a kind, dressed all in black instead of the gray and black coats adorning all the rest of his cousins bouncing around in the trees.  He was tightrope walking the small slender branches so he could reach the tender new buds and snap them off for an afternoon snack.  We paused for a few moments to enjoy his antics.  He crawled out onto some branches that wouldn’t hold his weight, so he fell and caught himself on adjacent branches.  He never gave us a moment’s notice, I guess because he was so hungry.  He was quite the risk taker.

This morning I just checked the news to find that Nik Wallenda successfully made his daredevil walk across the top of the new “Orlando Eye,” a gigantic ferris wheel set to open soon in the city.  He succeeded and established some sort of new world record for something.  Why do we take risks?  Should we take risks?  I know that if the squirrel we were watching had not risked crawling out on the tiniest of branches to snip the new buds, eventually he might have died from lack of food.  Sometimes we take risks for ourselves – sometimes for pleasure, sometimes for necessity, and sometimes for __________ .  Sometimes the risks lead to better living and sometimes the risks lead to destruction and death.  There must be healthy and unhealthy risk-taking.  We might need help discerning which risk we’re contemplating – healthy or unhealthy.  It’s okay to ask for that help and hopefully heed the warning if necessary.

What about taking a risk for another?  Risking for another takes us to a whole new plane.  Of course, the greatest risk is to give one’s life for another, just as Jesus said in the passage from the Gospel of John I quoted above.  Certainly there are times when many (such as our military) have been called to risk their lives for another.  We are grateful for their sacrifices.  However, are there additional opportunities to take risks for others that are less than the ultimate sacrifice of our lives?  Sure!

I think about this particularly as it applies to us as Christians.  Can you risk for another?  Can you walk down a hallway and instead of averting your eyes as the stranger approaches call out a gentle and friendly, “Hello!” or “Good Morning?”  Can you engage a new person who sits near you for worship?  Can you extend an invitation to a friend or neighbor to attend church with you?  Can you engage a co-worker who might be having a tough time and needs to share their burden or even ask questions about life and faith?  Can you offer a sacrificial gift for another?  As you consider your presence around others do you send a message that says, “I’m willing to risk talking or sharing with you,” or do you send a message that says, “I don’t care.  I don’t want to be bothered.  Leave me alone.”  As Christians it is critical that we are willing to take risks for others, and see that risk-taking as part of the central core of our relationship with Christ.  If our faith is like a car that carries us through life, then risking for others is part of the essential driving-force for the car, not an optional accessory package.

I pray that God will keep prodding me when necessary to risk for others.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,

Gary

Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church

Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit http://www.survivingteendepression.com.My new book, “Wednesday Wonderings: Spiritual Journaling Through a Lens” is available at http://www.wipfandstock.com and http://www.amazon.com.
Check out my video, “Teens Surviving the Storm”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1hSpxC_G24
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~ by revgenelson on April 29, 2015.

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