Book Review: Risk is Right by John Piper

Risk Is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It

Risk is Right by John Piper is a short book outlining why Christians should not only be unafraid of risk, but take more risk in their lives. A lot of this material seems to build on John Piper’s earlier work, Don’t Waste Your Life. John Piper starts by reminding us of the calling we have as Christians – “to make much of Jesus Christ and his glorious, universe-encompassing kingdom.” He tells us that there are thousands of ways to magnify Christ in our lives and that all are important, but there’s also something about sacrificial love that stands out. This doesn’t necessarily imply dying for our faith, but it might and dying would be better than living a wasted life.

John tells us that risk is part of this life. We don’t know what will come next, whether one second from now or one year from now. We can speculate, but all of our plans could come to nothing through an accident, illness, change in circumstances, or any number of events we can’t know. Does that mean we should live in fear, not making any decisions? Of course not. Piper writes of Friedrich Bonhoeffer when he was confronted with the evils of Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer saw the church being taken over by the Nazi party and pled with others to support them rather than keep putting off the decision until it was too late.

We’re reminded of the faithful in the Old Testament who took risks that could have led to their death, but which they saw as the better choice. Esther going in to the king not knowing if she would live or die because she entered uninvited. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego faced with the choice of the fiery furnace or bowing to an idol. Both stories tell of people who knew being faithful to God was more important than their lives. Daniel 3:16-18 sums it up well, essentially saying that if God is able to deliver them then so be it, but if not, they still would not serve other gods or worship the idol.

Finally, John walks us through the New Testament, following Paul and others who risked much to serve God. Romans 8 reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God. We’re told that we are more than conquerors with some great word illustrations. We’re left with the exhortation to not waste our lives nor to be foolish in the risks we take, but to put our faith in God, follow Him, and live accordingly.

My Thoughts: Risk is Right is a pretty short read at around 45-50 pages of actual text. That does not diminish it in any way, though. I was very encouraged by the selections John Piper used in supporting his arguments. He reminds us that sometimes not playing it safe is the right thing to do in order to serve God. He doesn’t encourage us to take foolish or selfish risks, but does plead with us to trust God and act accordingly. As a Christian, I think this is definitely worth reading.

Disclaimer: I was provided with a preview copy of this book with no expectations on the part of the publisher. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced by anyone else.

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