Posts Tagged ‘growing’

Series on Witness

We are continuing on in our series on witness challenging us to be sharing our faith as individuals and as a congregation.

We are doing the whole acrostic thing with the word “wintess.” So far we have looked at the “W” of witness – Why we reach out. Our motivation is Christ’s love for the lost. And we talked last week about the “I” of witness – Idolatry and reaching out. We saw that we can have a wrong motivation – growing and getting big in itself. But what God asks of us is to be faithful to share whether there are results or not. Today we look at the “T” of witness, and the title is Taking risks.

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t often like to take risks. Sure, I have done some crazy things here and there, like jumping out of an airplane once. But basically I like things to be calm and controlled; stable and routine. Like most people, I like to be comfortable.

The problem with this is that –

We are called to live by faith

 And faith is all about risk, or challenging us to come out of our places of comfort.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It’s risky because you can’t see how things will turn out, but yet you have a conviction and God calls you to step out and act on it. It’s like Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:7, “we walk by faith, not by sight.” You can’t see what’s ahead and you don’t have control. But we are still called to move forward.

But this is the whole point – you have to trust God, because only God can make it work. It’s beyond you. Faith is all about being in a place where if God doesn’t come through it’s not going to go well. And the question is, are we willing to go ahead and act relying fully on God? We want to be comfortable, but God calls us to live by faith.

Hebrews 10:38 says this about faith, “my righteous one shall live by faith” This is a defining characteristic of the Christian life. And then it goes on to say, “and if he shrinks back (that is, is afraid or gives up), my soul has no pleasure in him.” God calls us to live by faith and not to shrink back from taking risks as we do his will.

Let’s look at some –

Examples of risk

Think of Noah. He built a huge boat in a place where there was only land. And how many years did it take? And how much ridicule did he receive? But Hebrews 11:7 says, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household.” He acted by faith and not by sight and God’s purpose was fulfilled through him.

And then there is Abraham. Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” He acted without knowing what was ahead or being in control. And God used him to fulfill his purpose in the world.

And finally think of Moses. Hebrews 11:29 says, “By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned.” Can you imagine? They are trapped and about to die, but God opens up a sea before their eyes. And then God tells them to go through it! What if the waters come down on them? But because of Moses’ faith and the faith of the people, God fulfilled his purpose in the world.

Now there might be the temptation to think that taking risks in faith is for those who are younger. But let me remind you that Noah was no spring chicken when God told him to build the ark. Abraham was 75 years old when he set off for Canaan. And Moses was in his 80’s when he crossed the Red Sea.

The lesson is that –

God asks us to take risks before he does his work

This doesn’t mean that God can’t get things done without us, but it does mean that we won’t be partaking in the blessing; we won’t be the ones through whom God’s purpose is fulfilled in the world.

No risk, no stepping out in faith – no gain.

For instance, living the Christian life involves risk. We give things up, we serve, and we trust that it will all be worth it in the end. And this is a risk. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:29, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” Why? Because of all we give up to serve God in this world.

And this is true in other areas of obedience to God. It is a risk to trust God for our finances, but we believe that God will take care of us. It is a risk to love our enemy, but we believe that God will take care of us.

And certainly sharing our faith with others involves risk. For instance, if all your friends are Christians, this might mean taking a risk to befriend someone so that you can share your life and faith with them.

And then when it comes to actually sharing it’s risky:

  • What if I share and the person makes fun of my faith?
  • What if they don’t want to be friends anymore? Or it complicates a business relationship?
  • What if they ask a question I can’t answer?
  • What if it doesn’t go well?

Sharing our faith means taking a risk, and it can be scary. But we must trust that God will be with us and take care of us.

In the bigger picture asking God to move among us involves risk. As we saw, God asks us to take risks before he does his work in and among us.

I have been praying for God to move among us and I have invited you to also be a part of this. Do we want God to do something great among us? Do you think that this will happen if we just sit back and are comfortable and take no risks; that we can watch safely from the sidelines? What great thing has God ever done that didn’t require a step of faith, a risk from his people?

No, if God is going to move among us and bring renewal, you can be sure that he will ask us to step out in faith and take some risks.

One final thought. Growing as a church involves risk. What if people do respond? What if we step out in faith and share, and God moves, and people respond? This leads to another risk – change.

If we are comfortable, then by definition we like things the way they are. But if we reach out and grow, things will change. You have to make room for new people, new personalities, new problems and new points of view.

Are we willing to take this risk? Do we love God more than we love being comfortable? Is sharing Christ’s love with the lost more important than our love of comfort?

All I can say is that if we do step out and risk – God will be with us, God will take care of us and God will fulfill his purpose in this place through us.

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