What do you think about risks? I’m not talking about wearing shorts on a cold day or eating a different cereal than your daily Corn Flakes – I’m talking about completely stepping outside of your comfort zone, throwing yourself out there with no idea what’s going to happen, absolutely none.
I think we should all be willing to take these kinds of risks for things we’re passionate about, specifically, for God.
A lot of people in the Bible take a reckless risk by following Jesus. Most of His closest followers just dropped everything to follow this guy they barely knew, but I’m sure they felt God telling them to do so. If you think about King David in the Old Testament, he took a risk when he was a kid by taking on the biggest warrior of his time, Goliath. David was really passionate for God and for his country, and David beat Goliath, because God was on his side.
People say you’re defined by your wealth or your friendships or your material goods or your accomplishments at the end of your life, but I don’t think any of that really defines a person at all. I think what defines you is your passion. If you’re not passionate about something or someone, then what are you?
A lot of my friends are defined by their passion for Jesus. This is awesome, and I hope people would think the same about me. I want to be known not by some funny thing I said one time or not by how much money I earned or not by my friendship with so-and-so, but how passionate I am for Jesus and for life.
I have this buddy who lives in a different city, and we share a huge characteristic; we’re both super passionate for life, for living. Actually, most of my friends have a crazy passion for living, and it’s contagious. In the case of my friend from a different city, we’ve met in person maybe three or four times. But I told him about this crazy thing called the World Race, and he decided not to go to college next year and pursue this thing he feels like God is calling him to. He decided he wasn’t going to stick to the average life manual that the world gives us, he wasn’t going to give in to the schedule handed to us by society: go to school, go to college for four or more years, get a well-paying job, have a family.
Let me get something straight: this formula is not inherently bad. I have tons of older friends who’ve lived out this way of life, but they all have something very characteristic about the way they do it: they do it with passion.
You can be a doctor or a lawyer and have just as much passion for Jesus and for life as someone who runs around the world trying to share the gospel, risking their lives daily. You can also take risks for God every day if you do something normal, like a doctor telling a patient about hope in Christ, or a lawyer stepping out on behalf of his beliefs in ending modern slavery. Every one of us is called to different things, but sometimes, we’re forced into the same routine, and forced into it without passion.
I’m really passionate about, well, passion. When I was in middle school, I was pretty content with living without meaning, and living without any real passions. It’s really comfortable to fall into this feeling of halfheartedness, because you never really have to do much, you just sort of exist. I think a lot of my friends in my high school struggle with this, feeling like they’re okay to just survive and not thrive. But is anyone really, deep in their hearts, okay with living halfheartedly?
So I was a middle school kid just trying to fit in, telling fake stories about parties so people would think I was cool, and then I started going to this Christian school. I liked God a lot and thought He was pretty rad, but I didn’t know a ton about Him and didn’t really think I should stand out because of Him. Then at this Christian school, I started learning more and more about the Lord, but I still wasn’t super into it; I was still trying to fit in mostly. Then I hit the big leagues: high school. I was at the same Christian school, and eventually I found myself signed up for a trip to South Africa that only high-schoolers could partake in. Yes, there were going to be lions involved, and elephants. That’s really all I heard at the initial interest meeting, and decided it was worth it just for the lions and elephants. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting into.
Somehow at the end of the year I found myself on a huge plane headed 8000 miles across the Atlantic. I was confident I knew what to expect and I was looking forward to more than just lions and elephants at that point. That’s something else I found about life though: sometimes, we think we’re doing something for one reason, but God has a totally different reason in mind. He knew that trip would be about way more than just lions and elephants. I saw poverty like never before, and I met kids who were completely joyful in the midst of insane tragedies and hardships. Long story short, God totally wrecked my heart on that trip. I knew I couldn’t keep living my very comfortable, passionless, haphazard American life.
Passion for living involves more than caring about just staying alive. Actually, sometimes it looks like quite the opposite of just trying to stay alive. Like this one time, my buddy and I decided to climb across a huge bridge that was in the middle of construction just because we were passionate for the photos we could take inside. (Note: I don’t entirely recommend passion that breaks laws.) The pictures turned out really awesome, and my buddy and I grew closer after that adventure. The point, though, is that crazy stuff happens when you start to live with passion, and even crazier when that passion is for Jesus.
Revelation 3:15-16 says “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” God doesn’t like when people don’t pick a side and live halfheartedly.
I wanted to tell you guys about a crazy risk that I’m taking: I’m headed back to South Africa for a few months next year instead of going straight to college. I’ll be a photographer for an awesome organization that I volunteered with before called Abba’s Pride, and I’ll be doing some other cool missions stuff for them too. I’d love for your support through prayer, and I’m sure I’ll be writing more about this wild adventure soon.
I’ll leave you with this: God calls us to be passionate for Him, and sometimes that involves taking reckless risks to serve the Lord. And to my non-Christian friends, passion is still important; pick something you care about and pursue it recklessly. No matter what you do, live passionately, friends.