Retreat or risk?
Throughout redemptive history, that question has confronted God’s people. As John Piper references in the pages of the new book Risk Is Right (Crossway, 2013), it was the decision facing the Israelites on a crucial day at Kadesh Barnea.
Standing on the brink of the Promised Land, with the guarantee of God within their grasp, they ran from risk and chose to retreat. Instead of staking their lives on the faithfulness of God, they recoiled in fear. The cost was great, and the Lord left an entire generation to waste away in a wilderness until they died.
The Commission Is Clear.
Fast-forward a few thousand years, and you come to the people of God standing in a similar moment.
We live in a world where half the population is living on less than two dollars a day, and over a billion people dwell in desperate poverty.
Such physical need is only surpassed by spiritual poverty. Billions of people are engrossed in the worship of false gods, and approximately two billion of those people are still unreached with the gospel, meaning that they have little chance of even hearing about the sacrifice of Christ for their sins before they die. Most of the unreached live in hard-to-reach areas of the world that are hostile to Christians — areas of the world where our brothers and sisters are presently being persecuted, imprisoned and killed.
Though the challenges facing the church are great, the commission Christ has given is clear: Make disciples of all the nations. Spend your lives spreading the gospel of God for the glory of God to the ends of the earth. As you go, trust in his sovereign authority, depend on his indwelling presence, and experience his incomparable joy.
Jesus Is Worth It.
As we stand at our Kadesh Barnea, we have a choice.
We, too, can retreat into a wilderness of wasted opportunity. We can rest content in casual, convenient, cozy, comfortable Christian lives as we cling to the safety and security this world offers. We can coast through a cultural landscape marked by materialism, characterized by consumerism, and engulfed in individualism. We can assent to the spirit of this age and choose to spend our lives seeking worldly pleasures, acquiring worldly possessions, and pursuing worldly ambitions — all under the banner of cultural Christianity.
Or we can decide that Jesus is worth more than this.
We can recognize that he has created us, saved us and called us for a much greater purpose than anything this world could ever offer us. We can die to ourselves, our hopes, our dreams, our ambitions, our priorities and our plans. We can do all of this because we believe that the person and the plan of Christ bring reward that makes any risk more than worth it.