“Is that wise?” followed by “Are you sure it’s safe?” mark interesting conversations between people who take very different views on risk.
This tiger was safely penned in at London Zoo. He seemed perfectly relaxed and fast asleep; regular deep breathing with a hint of a snore-like rumble. His paws don’t seem quite so relaxed though… those look distinctly like claws to me. A little part of me would have loved to stroke that handsome head, run my fingers through that thick fur- to experience a tiger like an oversized kitten. Every now and then news breaks of someone who foolishly enters animal enclosures- bad endings. The zoo helpfully had signs up pointing out that the tigers viewed the spectators as food- just meat on feet.
Danger has an appeal. Risk is enticing- the thrill of successfully negotiating the hazards and getting an adrenaline rush. It’s why the big cats are so popular, it’s why theme parks have terrifying rides, it’s why white-water rafting sells tickets.
It’s why maniacs like this bloke paraglide from mountains in Austria! The thrill is a huge reward.
We’re equipped with mental and physiological tools for assessing risk: and for weighing up the balance of fright to euphoria. My brain says “Do NOT jump off mountains- EVER.” But a little bit of me would love to know what it would feel like.
After the Resurrection of Jesus, lots of people were assessing risks. The authorities hoped Jesus was still dead. The disciples were being challenged by His re-appearance. Risks require response and (ideally) reward.
If Peter and John and the others saw only the risks, it would be madness to follow Christ. Unless, of course, HE really WAS alive. In that event, the rewards outweighed the risks… One of the best proofs of the truth of the Resurrection is the changed character of the disciples. Even at risk of death (several were martyred) they believed that Jesus had changed everything. Therefore Jesus was worth every risk. They changed the world.
Today, we seem to want to turn Jesus into a sleeping tiger instead of a roaring lion. If He sleeps, he is safe to approach, safe to follow. (Actually if Jesus sleeps, in other words stayed dead, it would be safe to follow Him- but pointless.)
Living, glorified, triumphant: this Jesus is not tame, nor dull, nor powerless. A living Christ who has won the victory over death and who brings the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth, this Jesus is worth every risk, every obedience, every decision to love.
Easter may be finished in the shops. It never finishes wherever there is one person, one church, one community, willing to take the risk of saying YES to Jesus.
Do you settle for a tame, safe tiger? Or get all your thrills in theme parks, wild sports, cheap relationships, horror movies, computer games, addictions and selfishness.
Get a life! Make a difference. Look for the Risen Jesus, and take a risk on Him.