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I’ve got to be honest: I was terrified to plant a church in Toronto. One friend told me that I’d likely fail. One friend interviewed me and asked, “Do you think the plant might fail and are you personally prepared for that?”

I could come up with dozens of reasons why I was the wrong guy. I felt scared. And yet two Bible passages and the example of others compelled me to proceed. I keep returning to them because I often find myself drawn to safety and comfort.

First: it’s worth enduring hardship for the sake of reaching those who don’t know Jesus. In 2 Timothy 2, Paul writes:

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

Paul thought that jail was worth it if that’s what it took for others to obtain salvation. Ministry is costly, but the cost — even extreme cost — is worth it if that’s what it takes for people to hear and believe the gospel.

Second, playing it safe with our resources reveals a heart that doesn’t understand God. I’m fascinated with the parable of the talents, particularly with the servant who buried the money entrusted to him. “I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours,” that servant said (Matthew 25:25). The message of the parable is directed at the Pharisees who guarded God’s word so carefully that, as Michael Green writes, “they buried it where ordinary people could not get at it.” But the parable has a wider application, Green says. “It applies to all who are determined to retain the status quo and to avoid risk and change in their religion — to all who refuse to trade with the responsibilities the Master gives them.”

God expects us to do something with the resources he’s entrusted to us. Playing it safe isn’t an option. While we shouldn’t be reckless, we should invest what he’s entrusted to us, and investment always involves some risk.

Finally, risk is characteristic of those who serve God faithfully. One example is Jack Miller, who founded World Harvest Mission, now called Serge. His book The Heart of a Servant Leader records letters that he wrote to missionaries, pastors, and friends. Risk is a repeated theme. To a pastor who is disappointed with his church and his own ministry, and who wants to quit, he writes, “Be daring. Take risks. God be with you.” To his co-pastor he writes, “What we want to do is to avoid repeating the same mistakes, and hopefully not to fall into disastrous errors of judgment. But risks we must take.” Miller often said, “Risk or rust.” In his own life, he took calculated risks and expected God to work in tough situations.

Risk isn’t comfortable, and yet, as John Piper writes, risk is right. It’s better to risk our lives than to waste them, he says. “It is right to risk for the cause of Christ. It is right to seek to make much of Christ by taking the risks of love.” Not every risk is wise, and not every risk pays off in the short term, but we shouldn’t fall into the illusion of trying to live a risk-free life.

With appropriate counsel and lots of prayer, it’s right for Christians to risk. Why play it safe when the mission’s worth suffering, when God’s given us resources to invest, and when others have risked for his glory?

I suppose some may be prone to taking unwise risks, but that’s not most of us. Most of us need to hear the message: risk is right. Refuse to live a life of safety and self-preservation. Live as if the mission’s worth it, that God is at work, that what matters most is eternally secure, and it’s worth trading our comfort for what can’t be taken away.