Safety Is a Myth

Safety Is A Myth

The following is a transcript of the audio.

Pastor John, in your 50-page book, titled Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It you say that “safety is a myth.” What do you mean by that?

Well, both the Bible and experience teach us that safety is a myth. You can’t put enough padlocks on your door and enough bars on your window to keep a heart attack from happening. There is no guarantee that anybody is going to live another breath. In terms of absolute security, all the efforts that we make to keep ourselves safe are ultimately an illusion.

Our life is in God’s hands. “Come now, you who say “let us go up to such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit.” You do not know your life. It is like a vapor. You are arrogant. You ought to say, “If the Lord wills we will live and do this and that.” So there is no safety in the car to get you there. There is no safety in the building while you are there. There are no guarantees that you are going to live. That is what experience teaches us. Safety is an illusion in terms of its guarantee.

The Bible makes it worse for us. Jesus said, “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.”

Paul said, “Through many afflictions you must enter the kingdom.” Peter said, “Don’t think it strange if when the fiery ordeal comes upon you.” In other words it is not strange. It is normal to suffer in this world. And Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Everybody who decides to live a godly life will be persecuted.”

The New Testament is just replete with that you will not be safe. You are going to suffer. Take up your cross and follow me. Anybody who belongs to a people movement that has a crucified Lord at the head of it can count on a Calvary Road themselves. You cannot avoid risk, therefore embrace it for kingdom purposes.

Yeah, that is a great point. So this illusion of safety, then, is holding a Christian back from taking risk. What are the risks that you are specifically addressing in this book?

Risk is a peculiar thing. In order for there to be risk there has to be ignorance. So God can’t risk. I hear people say, “God took a big risk in creating human kind.” or “God took a big risk in sending his Son into the world.” Absolutely he did not. He knew exactly what would happen to his Son. He knew exactly that we would fall because he was planning redemption long before he created the world. The Bible is crystal clear on that. God was never and can never take a risk because risk demands ignorance. That is, if you know that you are going to be shot when you stand in front of your wife, you don’t risk being shot. You sacrifice yourself, period. That is not a risk. That is a sacrifice. And so you give your life for her. That is what Jesus did. Most of us live every day not at all sure what will happen to us. If we write a letter to our son or daughter to try to witness to them, we don’t know if it will backfire. When we try to witness to somebody at work, we don’t know whether they will criticize it or whether we will lose our job. When a person into a missions field he doesn't’ know whether he is going to be arrested. There are just a thousand things that we don’t know might happen to us. My point in this book is we should choose to risk. We should embrace risk, not minimize it. We decide whether a risk is right by looking at the greatness of the outcome that we hope for.

Personally, I think taking life-threatening risks for sheer pleasure is wrong. I wouldn’t sky dive or hang glide for just sheer pleasure. Why? Because if there is one simple malfunction, you are dead.. For what reason? Fun. To me, that’s a bad idea. However, I would support sky diving and hang gliding in order to accomplish some great, sacrificial goal for another person.

Everybody knows that driving a car down the road is taking a risk, but we do it because getting somewhere is valuable and the risk is small. The same applies with getting on an airplane. You risk your life getting on an airplane, and I think getting on an airplane just for fun would probably be foolish. But getting on an airplane to go somewhere in a certain amount of time with minimal risk and high payoff would be right.

So risk-taking then is directly tied to faith?

Yes, but I think there is a way to take risk as an arrogant glory-seeker. So I am not saying that only believers take risk. I am saying the only way to rightly take a risk that honors Christ is to say, “I love you. I trust you. I believe you are in control. Only you can provide the strength to do this and only you will govern the outcome. I am willing to walk into this risk for kingdom purposes and for your glory because I am trusting you. The reason I can trust you is because you died for me and you rose for me.” The gospel is underneath my readiness to risk by faith.

Related resource: Risk is Right

Thumb author john piper

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including A Peculiar Glory.