The crime of living cautiously

Ours is an age of anxiety; we idolize security, seeking to live ruling out risk or failure.  Exhibit # 1,043: helicopter parents hovering protectively over their children’s bubble-wrapped lives.

Doesn’t that seem a bad way to live?  Jesus seemed to think so.  I love Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Jesus’ parable of the talents, the master says to the cautious, one-talent servant “It’s a crime to live cautiously like that.”  In the end, the Master did away with this servant: “get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb.” 

Why?  Because risk seems to be an important part of God’s economy of love; because you can’t love without risking; because love is the power that cannot co-exist with anxious fear – it drives it out.  In God’s Kingdom, there’s a shocking freedom to risk because there’s nothing that can put you beyond the reach of God’s scandalously beautiful grace.  I’m so easily seduced into thinking this is a dangerous world.  There’s a weight of evidence that leads to question there is a good God at the helm.  But Jesus keeps telling me the Father is good and keeps calling me to follow, to risk, just like God.

Because God is love, God risks.  Didn’t God take an awful risk when he created us in the liberty of love, free to love and follow him or free to flip him off and reject him?  Crazy risk; crazy love; crazy, beautiful God.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn asks a question I need to pose every day to myself: “If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?”

Think about that … and then watch the Flight of the Frenchies below.  You won’t catch me walking a slack-line over a mountain gorge but the Frenchies remind me of the freedom that comes from living with a powerful awareness that I am held in the hands of a very good God.

<p><a href=”″>I Believe I Can Fly (Flight of the Frenchies) – Trailer</a> from <a href=””>sebastien montaz-rosset</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

3 thoughts on “The crime of living cautiously”

  1. Hi Phil, Thanks for your fresh expression of advocacy for risk-taking as a normative part of being fully human and alive in Jesus. I appreciated your citing Solzhenitsyn”s question, “If one is forever cautious, can one remain a human being?” And the Flight of the Frenchies took my breath away! Worth stewing on for awhile. Thanks!

  2. What a crazy awesome video, what a crazy awesome blog; but oh so real! Which, it seems to me, involves some risk-taking on the part of a Presbyterian minister! I happened to read this blog just before reading today’s PCC daily devotional (, and immediately made a connection. It is about the story of Jonah, which is really about obedience to God and the Lord’s compassion when we are obedient to Him. But the connection I made was about Jonah’s reluctance to take personal risk and go preach to the people of Nineveh about their wickedness and coming destruction. Just like for Jonah, good things happen when we take personal risk for God and His Kingdom.

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