Are You Willing to Take the Risk? Shahbaz Bhatti and the Risky Business of Following Jesus

Genuinely following God is going to require risks.  To grow deeper in our walk with Christ will mean that God will call us out of our comfort zones to risk new levels of obedience and faith in Him.  Without these risks, we never really learn the exacting nature of true discipleship.  We never really learn that life isn’t about us.  We never really learn how to move beyond selfishness.  The risks, for some the threat of loss of life and for others the loss of comfort/convenience, are opportunities for us to grow in our relationship with the Lord.

Last week, Shahbaz Bhatti was martyred in Islamabad for his faith in Christ.  Batti was the Minister for Minority Affairs in Pakistan.  In recent months, he had become an outspoken opponent of Pakistan’s Sharia law, particularly the blasphemy laws which call for the execution of anyone who speaks against Muhammad.  In a story posted by the BBC, a video of an interview given by Bhatti can be seen where he basically predicts his death.  Bhatti boldly proclaims his faith in Christ and his willingness to die for his principles.  Here is a quote from Bhatti:

“I’m speaking for the oppressed and marginalized Christian minority… I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given His own life for us. I know the meaning of the cross and following the cross.  And I’m ready to die for a cause… I’m living for my community and suffering people and I’m ready to die for their rights.”  He goes on to state that he would rather die standing for his principles than bow down to the threats of radical and violent Islamic groups.

You can read the BBC story and see the video of Bhatti (scroll halfway down the story and click on the video of his picture) here:

Bhatti Interview

Shahbaz Bhatti understood the risks involved in following Christ.  He was willing to give his life and for that the Lord will greatly reward His faith.  But I wonder, do we understand the risks involved in truly following Jesus?  When you get down to it, most of us don’t want to be inconvenienced.  We don’t want to take risks, but much prefer our comfort zones of playing it safe and easy.  If you are going to grow deeper in Christ, God will call you to take risks.  He’s going to call you to risk talking to your friend or co-worker about the Lord.  He’s going to call you to risk sharing the gospel with them.  He’s going to call you to risk breaking off any unhealthy relationship or activity that brings you down spiritually.  He’s going to call you to risk tithing.  He’s going to call you to risk going on a mission trip.  Following God is not a risk-free offer!

Are you willing to take the risk of growing deeper in Christ?  When you compare our lives to Mr. Bhatti, many of us aren’t even facing real risks.  His risk was the loss of life.  Many times our “risk” is the danger of an awkward moment while talking to someone about the Lord or the loss of creature comforts for one week on a mission trip.  If you really want to grow, God will call you to risks.  We often ask this question in association with risks- “Is it worth it?”  With risks we weigh the consequences of taking the step of faith.  The risk of following Jesus to deeper levels of sacrifice and obedience is always worth it.

Last Sunday, I preached on the story of Rahab hiding the Hebrew spies in Jericho.  She took a huge risk in believing in God even when no one else around her did.  She took a huge risk allowing the men to hide in her home.  If the authorities found out, she and her family would have been killed.  She took a huge risk hanging the scarlet cord out her window.  What if the Hebrews didn’t return as promised?  What if they were defeated in trying to take the city.  In my research, I discovered the earliest known fortified city in human history was Jericho.  For centuries it stood having never been conquered.  She risked that the Hebrews would do what had never been done before.  The scarlet cord was evidence she was up to something and she certainly would have been found out and punished if the city did not fall.

Was it worth it to Rahab?  Yes!  She finally found purpose and meaning in life by placing her faith in the one true God who created her to obey and glorify Him.  She lived the rest of her life in Israel married to a prince.  The prostitute became a princess and her son is in the bloodline of the Messiah, Jesus Christ!  What an awesome payoff for the risk she took to follow God closely.  I pray you will take the risk to follow God to deeper levels of commitment- it’s definitely worth it!



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