Summary: To our young people as they head back to School. Taking God with you to school is risky but rewarding.
Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, once said, "Unless there is an element of risk in our exploits for God, there is no need for faith."
There are two words that catch me up when I read that quote. I like thinking about my walk with God as an exploit. Exploit is a much more interesting word than, say, lifestyle or way of life. A lifestyle is what you live in a subdivision, getting here and there in a minivan. It’s about as interesting as watching grits cook. But an exploit -- well, you need to be wearing a pit helmet and hiking boots to go on an exploit. Exploits involve imagination, engender excitement and require risk.
Which is the other word I like in Taylor’s quote. Risk. I like thinking about how my exploits for God require an element of risk. Like there’s some danger involved. Something more than just showing up for church on Sunday and spending the rest of the week trying to be good. Putting an element of risk in our exploits for God is the cure for common Christianity.
The word risk doesn’t show up in the Bible very much. In fact, in Strong’s Exhaustive concordance, it doesn’t show up at all. But did you ever notice that God hardly ever commands us to do something safe?
Moses: throw down your rod. Rod becomes a snake. What does God tell Moses to do? Pick it up. Now, go tell the most powerful man in the world that I said, "Let my people go."
Joseph: Your fiancée, Mary, is pregnant. I know you’ve been thinking about divorcing her quietly and I can appreciate that, what with the scandal of it all and the impact it will have on your business and everything. But you aren’t going to divorce her. You’re going to marry her. And you’re going to raise the child as your own. You get to be foster father to the Son of God.
The Apostles: I want you fellows to go into all the world and preach the gospel, baptizing them into the name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and I will be with you always, to the very end of the age. And you’ll need for me to be with you because everywhere you go they are going to persecute you. You’ll be thrown in jail and some of you will even be executed.
Paul: Paul I want you to defend this Jesus who you once persecuted. You will be shipwrecked, stoned, beaten, and jailed but I need you to do this.
Jesus: God said, "Go down there and die on a cross."
To us: Take up your cross daily and follow me. How safe does that sound?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a wonderful thinker, who was killed in a Nazi death camp for his beliefs. He said once that, "When Jesus calls a man he bids him come and die." Folks, there isn’t anything God asks us to do that is safe. Faith always requires risk.
Now just in case you are wondering why I asked you to come down here and sit upfront, What does all of this have to do with the fact that tomorrow you start your first week of School to face all those new faces and that demanding schedule and all that homework, just remember that I am a preacher and it might take a while to get there but eventually we will get to the point.
I want you to think about it; where’s the one place you most need your faith to make it?
Not at home, hopefully not here at church, that pretty much leaves one place. In school.
The next nine months are going to put your faith to a major test. And you thought algebra was going to be tough. It’s nothing compared to the test of faith you are about to experience.
If you don’t infuse your faith with the courage to risk great things for God, you’re going to be one bored and boring Christian for the next nine months. And you’ll likely be an easy target for the enemy. So when we talk about developing a faith that’s willing to take great risks for God, we’re talking about something that is immediately relevant to the beginning of school.
But we all possess one thing that keeps us from taking the risk of faith? Do you know what it is?
Just one word: Fear.
Tonight I want to look at the three main kinds of fear that paralyze Christians and Christian churches, and then we will go off to the park for our cook out.
1. Fear of failure
Numbers 13:26 – 33 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the people of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh. They brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us. It flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. However, the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. And besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. The Amalekites dwell in the land of the Negeb. The Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the hill country. And the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and along the Jordan.” But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”