World events often leave me with a vague fear and uncertainty.
- I anxiously avoid mosquitoes for fear of West Nile virus.
- The thought of possible terrorist activity creeps into my mind as our plane takes off.
- News stories of child kidnapping create anxiety about our children’s safety.
These issues are tragic to those who encounter them. We should never make light of such severe loss and tragic maneuvers. But, for the moment, let us consider statistics only. While looking at the issue of risk only, we end up considering totally different areas of concern.
David Ropeik, at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, urges us to take a second look at how we view risks. His co-authored book, Risk: A Practical Guide for Deciding What's Really Safe and What's Really Dangerous in the World Around You, suggests that "our feelings often cloud the interpretation of the facts" when it comes to risk for us personally. Looking purely at statistics, we should be more concerned about:
- sun exposure
- medical and pharmaceutical errors
- obesity, smoking and lack of physical activity, and
- motor vehicle accidents
O.K., so how does "risk" relate to our spiritual lives? Do we skip over the real risks and place our energies on the assumed risks? What puts us at risk spiritually?
- Are we satisfied with the outward appearance of doing good while our hearts are bitter?
- Do we treat our children or spouses nicely in front of others and yell at home?
- Are we resisting the movement of the Holy Spirit in our hearts because we don’t want to do what God is asking of us?
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed his disciples about the risks involved in ignoring the issues of the heart. He warned the disciples that anger in their hearts toward their brother was the equivalent of murder. He cautioned in strong words that the lusting in their hearts sexually put their souls at risk spiritually. In fact, at the end of his sermon, Jesus shared these chilling words. "Not everyone who says to me,
‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21 NIV)
Risk assessment is important as we live our daily lives. Spiritual risk assessment, however, is of utmost importance. Are our hearts at risk?
Sharing the journey with you,