17 April 2009

risk part 2: of paralysis and destruction

Yesterday, I admitted my love for the game of RISK, which probably ended any debate as to whether I am a nerd.

And I finished the post with a big question, especially for followers of the Way.

Where are we allowing risk to paralyze us?

I think that "risk paralysis" is the primary driver of our inaction, especially for the Christians following the open-door/close-door philosophy. You know…

“Well, I know I should stop ___________, but I’m just waiting on God to close that door.”

“I know that the Scripture says I should ____________, but I’m waiting on God to open that door for me.”

Such ideas are difficult to accept...

What is clear in Scripture is clear. What is darkness is darkness.

God doesn’t need to close all strip clubs in order for a man to know that dropping dollars on dancers are probably not God’s best intentions for him.

God doesn’t need to cause a global collapse in the diamond industry to show a woman working for a diamond mining company that profits off slave labor in Africa that her employment enables slavery and probably fails to honor God’s creation and heart.

And yet, the baseline tremor that causes our inaction is risk.

The man at the strip club doesn’t live a transparent life in community, doesn’t confess his darkness, and doesn’t acknowledge his brokenness…all because of the risk of being judged. He could lose his family. He could be asked to step down from leadership. He could lose his standing in the community.

The woman at the diamond company lives a life of justification. Because the risk of being unemployed for the sake of Godly principle…of being homeless or hungry…of being mocked for her na├»ve idealism.

Scripture is clear that all darkness will be brought into the light anyway. So, we can admit our fears. Our lusts. Our pride. Our brokenness. Our darkness.

Taking a job is a risk. Quitting a job is a risk. Getting married is a risk. Not getting married is a risk. Being vulnerable is a risk. Being invulnerable is a risk. Becoming a missionary is a risk. Not becoming a missionary is a risk. Having a difficult conversation is a risk. Failing to have a difficult conversation is a risk. Standing against injustice is a risk. Quietly allowing injustice is a risk.

Where is it that we are so afraid of a negative outcome that we fail to act? Where is it that we are ensuring an undesirable outcome all the same in that inaction?

Risk paralysis is a mortal danger. Life, as in the game of RISK, features illusions of safety and security. The safety of the self-induced siege is tempting. And yet the reality is that eventually the growing army banging at the walls of the city will eventually crash through. Eventually, the darkness will be brought into the light. Eventually, the apparent “safety” of inaction will be the very cause of our destruction.


  1. I think worrying more about what people will think of us instead of what God will think of us is the center of much self-loathing and living in darkness.

  2. that is a very interesting thought... i guess there is an inherent lack of trust in that, huh?

  3. tonight at a marriage event at church a lady reflected afterwards that she was really wrestling with the implications of "no marriage in heaven as Jesus said...that as much as my focus in life is on my spouse, on my family, on my general life...that it truly will all fade away and the point of it all was about my relationship with God seen through those other relationships." there's a mountain of paradox and depth behind that statement.

    I went to a Christian college so I used to see excessive spiritual paralysis. "Gosh, i'm not sure if I should get this job...God hasn't really given me a sign for it so I think I'll see if it closes and take that as my sign." Apparently the whole Biblical wisdom of he who doesn't work doesn't eat wasn't a "sign," just a guideline kind of like parley for pirates?

    I wonder how much disobedience is wrought daily throughout the Church by followers of the Way who disregard an entire book of revealed truth and instruction waiting for "signs and wonders" on mundane things? Even more dangerous, should the Spirit communicate with us...would we know how to test those spiritual urges against any grounding truth source?

    James 2:26. Ouch.

    Our actions reveal a disbelief, a pride or a delusion. We either don't believe in God, we don't believe He's a holy God, we don't believe there will be consequences, we don't believe we are capable of angering Him, we don't believe we are held accountable. Or, we pridefully presume some hall pass that grants us grace to apply extravagantly as we leisurely determine which areas of our life we'll choose to obey in and when/how. Or, we are delusional about our disconnects, our God relationship implications and what a shoddy job of reflecting God's glory to the world around us our silly pandering does.

    we don't take risks because we think we can afford the cost of inaction...that our negotiation skills with the land owner who returns to take an account of what we've been entrusted us with will serve us better than God's ability to preserve us in obedient action now.