Monday, July 2, 2012

Risky Faith

Have you ever done anything risky? Have you ever attempted something you’d never done before, something you weren’t sure what the outcome would be? Was the risk physically, mentally, spiritually or financially dangerous? How long has it been since you took a risk? Or…do you face risks all the time? Maybe you’re one of those who just live to risk it all.

What does it take to spur us to take a chance and risk everything, to step out in faith? Do we need some assurance that there is at least some chance for a great reward?

Maybe you’re not a risk taker and never have been. Maybe you’ve played it safe your whole life. Maybe you’ve never had to risk everything. Maybe you’ve never had to lay it all on the line hoping beyond hope that this time the risk would be worth it.

Paul is asking the Corinthian church to step up their mission giving to help the other church startups who are struggling. It seems like such an innocent request. He’s just asking them to give a little more from their nest eggs of plenty to help these other churches who haven’t been able to build up a reserve. Paul’s asking them to take a chance. Maybe those they help will be able to return the favor when they are in a crisis. Maybe…they’ll be able to help Corinth sometime in the future.

It’s a risk because maybe they won’t be able to ever help. Maybe they will and maybe they won’t but still Paul is issuing the challenge to the Corinthian church to take a chance.

It’s not easy to take a chance on the unknown. It’s not so easy to let go of what we’ve worked so hard to build up. It’s not always so easy to trust in the goodness of our fellowman…or God.

But what if we were on the other end of this scenario? What if we were the ones in need? What would we be willing to risk just to achieve some degree of safety where we weren’t always worrying about what tomorrow would bring?

Maybe it makes a difference how desperate we are. Does it make a difference if it’s our health or our possessions or savings or our soul that’s in jeopardy?

In our gospel lesson Jairus was taking a risk coming to Jesus for help. He was at the end of his rope and Jesus was his last chance to save his daughter. He was willing to be ostracized for coming to Jesus to ask him to heal his daughter.

The woman who’d been suffering for 12 years took a risk. She didn’t really know if it would work or not but she’d seen or heard about this power Jesus had to heal. What could it hurt just to push her way through the crowd to touch the hem of his robe? Somewhere deep within her being she knew that’s all she needed to do to be freed from this affliction.

But it was a risk. What if she couldn’t get through the press of people? What if one of the disciples stopped her just before she could touch his robe? What if she was mistaken and it didn’t work?

She believed it was worth the risk and she succeeded in touching his robe but then…she heard Jesus questioning in a stern and loud voice, “Who touched my robe?” She knew he knew. Now what was she to do?

He sounded upset…and angry. Was he going to take her healing back? Now what?

So, she stiffened her resolve and spoke up. She admitted that she was the one who had touched his robe. She told him everything…and he listened.

 34Jesus said to her, "Daughter, you took a risk of faith, and now you're healed and whole. Live well, live blessed! Be healed of your plague."

There’s the reason for taking the risk of faith. She risked everything and because of her faith she was healed and whole again.

So, is the question, “What will we gain if we take a risk of faith?” Is the risk taking all about making things better for us; is it about securing one of the rooms Jesus said he was preparing for us? I don’t think so.

We read God’s word to us and by His grace we believe and trust that God will keep his promise of forgiveness and eternal life. What’s the risk in doing that and if its all grace then is it really a risk? What do you think?

This is what I think. I think that the risk of faith Jesus is talking about is going against the status quo, walking against the flow instead of floating downstream. I believe that’s the risk of faith. Accepting that Jesus is God’s Son and that he did in fact die for our sins, rose from the grave defeating death forever, and ascended into to heaven to intercede before God for us and to prepare a place for us in heaven. The risk maybe that the world we live in, the community we live in may laugh at us, may ridicule us for this belief, may reject us as stupid and silly people for putting our faith in a God no one has ever seen.

In some places in this world the risk of faith could cost them their livelihood and even their lives. And still…there are people willing to accept that risk because they believe in God’s grace.

Good friends, are we willing to take a risk of faith and give our whole lives and being to the One who is patiently waiting for our decision? Jesus’ robe is just within our fingertips reach. Are we willing to push our way through the crowd and touch it?

Jairus risked his reputation and standing in the community to come to Jesus. The woman wasn’t sure what she was risking but her faith gave her the strength she needed to reach out and touch His robe.

Good friends, take a chance on Jesus and touch his robe, take his hand and let him lift you up. The risk is worth it.

I haven’t said what you’d gain if you took the risk, but the woman and Jairus both received a gift that was beyond price, the gift of freedom. They were freed from the bonds of this world and that was worth the risk.

You and I can also be freed from those things that are weighing us down if we just risk our faith and place our hope in Jesus.

Thanks be to God for his loving and forgiving grace. Amen.

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