Some Thoughts On Risk

I recently heard a speaker talk about risk and faith.  I am misquoting him here, quite deliberately, because I want to put a slightly different spin on what he said.

“Risk” is a fact of life.  Everything we do involves risk.  If you get out of bed, you risk tripping over.  If you stay in bed, you risk not getting things done.  If  you drive to work, you risk a car accident.  If you walk to work, you risk being hit by a car.  If you eat red meat, you risk getting high cholesterol, and if you become a vegan, you risk, well, being a vegan.  (Just kidding, I’m sure vegans are very happy as vegans).

We are taught to minimize risk in our lives – don’t undertake risky behaviours or ventures, check out options, put safeguards in place, don’t put all your eggs in one basket.  In some ways that is really good advice, if you want to live a safe life.

But risk is natural.  We are designed for it.  As the much used cliché says, a ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

Motivational speakers talk about risk and opportunity being the same thing – that opportunity is by its very nature risky.  Risk presents as the possibility of loss of some kind.  It is the chance to lose something and we take risk when we see that the possible gain outweighs the possible loss.  Risk and opportunity are two sides of the same coin.

But what this speaker suggested – not a new idea by the way, and this is my misquote – that risk is only the opportunity for faith.  Any action in faith involves risk because if it was safe – without risk – it would not require faith.

Now, I’m not saying that every risky thing is an opportunity to express faith.  There is a difference between faith and stupid.  Faith is when God calls us to do something, stupid is when we are just too dumb to know that something is a bad idea.

As a people of faith, a people who declare our faith in God and his mission in the world we are a people of risk.  We cannot not take risks if we are going to live by faith.  The church is sometimes called a faith organization.  In other words, by our very nature, we are supposed to take risks.

Don’t be afraid of risk.  Look at it, in all its danger and potential loss, and choose to take it anyway.  Only then will your faith be made complete as you see what God is calling us to in the risky business of life.