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Risking Much for the Gospel

One of the things I've learned as a dad of two young boys is that children are great risk-takers. Recently, we met up with another family at a local park. After spending some time riding their bikes and scooters, all the kids made their way to a nearby creek. Of course, they all had to cross it by stepping on rocks across the width of the creek. Inevitably, both of our boys would lose their footing on those rocks, and they each came away with soaked socks and tennis shoes. But isn't that what kids do? They take risks by jumping off play structures (Or beds and couches inside our homes), riding their bikes or skateboards down a hill, or even sliding down a stair case! As parents, those are the moments we hold our breath and hope nothing goes wrong. Although, I remember taking those same risks when I was a kid, too!

Kids are famous for taking risks. Kind of like Esther is famous for risking her life when she approached King Xerxes unsummoned (Esther 4:11-16; 5:1-2). But did you know that wasn't the only time Esther risked her life? As we studied Esther 7:1-10 this Sunday, we realized she risked her life again when she invited King Xerxes and Haman to a second feast. During the feast, she pleaded to the king on behalf of all her people—the Jews—who were targeted by Haman to be destroyed, killed, and annihilated (Esther 3:13; 7:4). Up to this point in the narrative, Esther had kept her true identity hidden. No one in the palace knew she was a Jewish woman, not even the king! By pleading on behalf of her people, she revealed her true identity, and she risked being killed because of the empire-wide edict Haman had executed against all the Jewish people.

The narrative helps us understand that bringing life to others through the gospel in our own day often requires risk. At the very least, sharing the good news of Jesus with a neighbor, friend, or stranger—or even inviting someone to gather with our church—requires that we not hide our true identity as followers of Jesus. And that can be a risky thing! In some parts of the world, identifying with Jesus comes with the risk of death itself. In our own culture, the risks look different, but they're still risks.

We're encouraged to ask ourselves, "What risks, if any, are we currently taking for the sake of the gospel?" Just as Esther took risks for bringing life to her people, what risks are we taking to bring the message of life in Christ to our neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family members? Especially as we consider the irrevocable edict of death over this sin-struck world (Romans 3:23; 6:23), what risks are we taking so that others won't perish eternally? And here's a great follow-up question worth considering: Is there anything that stops you from risking much for the gospel? What steps can you take, or who could you talk to, to help you overcome those obstacles?

And here is one last encouragement. Consider that nothing prevented Jesus from rescuing you from sin and death. In his case, there wasn't a possible risking of his own life; there was only a sure pathway to suffering and death. But the cross didn't stop him, and neither did the grave. He experienced both for our sake, so that we could experience everlasting life through faith. What amazing grace the Lord has given us!

May his grace empower us to risk much for the gospel. Wet socks and shoes won't matter in heaven. But we'll sure be glad we were willing to take risks in order to see friends and neighbors with us in our heavenly home, delighting in Christ forever. So let's be like children, willing to risk much for the gospel!

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