26 “... men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Acts 15:26 (NIV)
Are you a risk taker? What risks do you like to take?
We took a bold risk in Brazil recently. Athletes in Action was asked to represent Team USA at a great hemisphere-wide, multi-sport festival. These mini-Olympic Games were held in the macro metro of São Paulo.
We came hunting for a gold medal in men’s basketball. Repping our country well on a pretty big international stage was an important and challenging goal.
Two days before our competition was slated to start, we had an opportunity to visit a juvenile detention center outside that huge city. About 100 incarcerated young men, targeted within a very large overall prison population, awaited our arrival.
We came with no expectations other than to love, listen, learn, bring joy and share messages of hope and truth. We soon learned that in order to do that well, we could not simply meet and connect meaningfully in the 45 minutes we had left to visit, and still make it to practice.
So we risked missing practice in order to let love win and to put serving others first.
Well … it was more than worth the risk. Our jail time with those young men became epicly good. Our 45-minute session grew to well over two hours. We laughed and cried, loved well, declared the truth … and forfeited our practice time altogether that day.
We left that bare Brazilian prison with memories for a lifetime, risking a gold medal preparation for a “soul-shank” redemption experience. It was well worth it.
We saw plenty of eternal wins that day. And five days later, well-earned gold medals were being draped around our necks anyway.
Some pursuits are worth the risk. And love got the biggest win.
The men of Acts 15 got great wins too. They risked their very lives for Jesus. His Name meant something grand to them.
They loved Him, deeply convinced that He risked His life for them. And their only proper response was to do the same. “For the Name” was their bottom line.
The same goes for us. (2 Corinthians 5:15 is too compelling.) This risk is worth it. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose“ (Jim Elliot).
Reflect: What life risks of yours have been foolish? What life risks have been worth it? For whose name would you risk your life? How much of your life are you risking for the One who risked all of His for you?
A prayer to consider: Lord Jesus, Your name is worthy of my life … and my death.
Thank You for letting selfless service and love win no matter what. Your Name means so much to me. I’m Yours, come what may.