Risk vs Reward
Activities with the greatest risk typically have the greatest rewards. Think about it. Sky-diving. Mountain climbing. Marriage. Of course, some risks aren’t worth it. But isn’t it also true that the most rewarding experiences in our lives are also the riskiest?
What’s the greatest risk? Relationship. In fact, we don’t have relationship if we haven’t risked something! Deep relationships require vulnerability. Relationships jeopardize our protection, both from hurt and from blessing. Our closest friends have the greatest potential to bless us, but also to wound us. For instance, a snide comment that we could brush off from a stranger can be crushing from a friend. That’s why the saying goes “You always hurt the ones you love.” At the same time, it’s those who know us best who can call out the good in us and encourage us when we’re down.
In fact, we don’t have relationship if we haven’t risked something!
Risk is worth it because relationship is worth it. And the reason we value relationship is because God values relationship. In fact, God is relationship!
So if God is all about relationship, and relationship involves risk, has God risked anything with us?
We all know that God has all the power in the world. He’s not sitting up in the sky somewhere, hoping against hope that things don’t go horribly wrong. But it’s also true that he loves us enough that he has something to lose if we reject him. And if he has taken risk for us, we have a relationship with him that’s so much sweeter than we may know.
What does it mean to say that God has taken risk?
God has risked his reputation.
God has chosen me and you to represent him here on earth. So great is his love for us that he wants to work through us to show the world who he is. Rather than righting wrongs at the snap of his fingers, he invites us to pray and to work with him in advancing his kingdom. I don’t know about you, but I don’t always represent him perfectly. And yet he is not ashamed to identify with us as his children.
God has risked his heart.
In Genesis 6:6 we read that when God saw the wickedness of the human race, his heart was filled with pain. The almighty God, filled with pain because of human action! In the same way that we take a risk when we open our hearts to others in intimate relationship, God has taken this risk. He has given us the ability to bless his heart or to grieve it. He’s not distant and unconcerned. He is deeply blessed when we obey him and enjoy his presence. He is also deeply grieved when we sin against him and sin against others.
Understanding that God has put his heart on the line for us helps us understand why obedience is so important. It also gives us a deeper revelation of how great his mercy is.
He’s not distant and unconcerned. He is deeply blessed when we obey him and enjoy his presence.
God has risked uniqueness.
God created you unique, and there is no one else in the world like you. That means that you are special in every way, and once you die, no one will take your place. God created you in his image, and there is a way that you display his character that no one else does. That means that God has risked something of himself in making you one of a kind. If you reject God, there’s a loss of flavor, something lacking in the family of God that forms a composite reflection of his infinite nature. God puts his creativity on the line for you, offering you the sweetness and focused affection of an intimate lover.
God’s love is constantly wooing you. Revelation of that love changes everything. Who could resist such a passionate love? And you can’t have relationship without risk. Remember, the greatest reward require the greatest risk. Jesus determined that the reward of winning your heart was worth the ultimate sacrifice.
So the question that remains is this: do you see God as your ultimate reward? Are you ready to lay your life on the line for him?
Ben Fitzwater works at YWAM Louisville in our Discipleship Training Schools. When he isn’t leading fire-eyed young people on mission trips, he is either relaxing with a cup of coffee or passionately cheering for the Indianapolis Colts.