Monday, July 26, 2010

The Crazy Risk

The other day I had the best discussion with an agnostic who recently became a Christian. Let's call her Mary. Like so many young adults, Mary went to church when she was a child but dropped out when she was 14 and became a committed agnostic. Mary enjoyed volunteering and helping others; but going to church, prayer, Bible study and similar religious activities were no longer part of Mary's life.

Mary held to this position all through high school and into her college experience. In college Mary met a young woman named Casey who was a committed Christian. Unlike the Christians Mary had known at the ritualistic church of her childhood, Casey seemed to radiant powerful faith in Jesus Christ. Casey did not mind Mary's many deep questions about faith. Sometimes Casey had an answer, sometimes she did not. Either way, Casey welcomed and encouraged Mary's questions. Mary enjoyed the friendship but was not moved from her agnostic position.

One day Mary heard Casey talking to some Christian students about a trip they were taking to a big city on the East Coast where they would serve some of the hurting residents who were stuck in cycles of poverty. Since Mary enjoyed volunteering, she asked Casey if non-Christians could participate. Casey said yes. Mary recalls spending a week with some of the most committed and dedicated Christians she had ever met. One young couple in particular stuck out in her mind. The husband and wife both had excellent educations and were quite affluent. After their marriage they chose to buy a large house in a very bad section of town so they could make a difference for Christ in that troubled community. They could have moved to the suburbs and chased the American dream but their faith made them take a crazy risk. Mary had never seen the Gospel lived out in such a way before. Before the week ended, Mary found herself praying to a God she still was not sure existed.

Sometime later Mary decided to go with a group of students to a Christian retreat center. Mary remembers thinking that she would become a Christian for one week just to see if it worked. She quickly realized that she could not just turn faith off and on like that. Mary concluded that "You can choose to believe in God and make the logic work out. You can choose not to believe in God and make the logic work out. But you can't reason your way from one position to the other. Whichever way you move, you have to take a crazy risk and make a leap of faith."

Mary has made a powerful point. If a person views the world through "agnostic glasses," he or she can ignore all the proof of God's existence. If a person views the world through "Christian glasses," he or she can ignore difficult questions like why is there evil in the world or how can people justify doing terrible things in the name of God. Either way, we choose which glasses to put on and then we view the world through those glasses. This is why Christians will never be able to "argue" someone to their position, and vice versa. There is no logical road between the two that can be traveled back and forth intellectually. Choosing either road requires faith, either in a supernatural force, or in humanity. Choosing either road requires a crazy risk because we cannot know scientifically how either road will end.

Mary decided to take a crazy risk and become a real Christian. She still has lots of deep questions and she says "Sometimes I find a verse in the Bible I REALLY DO NOT LIKE, but I believe anyway because God is bigger than what I like or dislike." Churches that want to reach young adults like Mary better get ready to encourage lots of such questions and leaders of churches that want to reach out to young adults had better make sure they are living out the Gospel in a radical way. Otherwise, most young adults like Mary will not be moved to take the crazy risk and become a Christian.


  1. Susan Van DeusenJuly 26, 2010 at 9:00 AM

    I like this.

  2. Such an awesome post, Terry. Thank you so much. This illustrates the exact experience I have had with young adults. There are so many like Mary who are not moved by easy Christianity, whether in faith or living. It takes radical faith and living to make Christianity seem real to those like Mary. Having recently been around more like Mary I have found myself guilty of living a less radical Christianity. I am more convinced now than ever of what Jesus said about following Him, "If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he CANNOT be My disciple." (Luke 14:26)

  3. Jo Ann Graves, Knox City, TexasJuly 26, 2010 at 1:34 PM

    I am so glad I took that crazy risk!

  4. I like this very much. Will forward it to someone I know needs to read it.

  5. Thanks for The Crazy Risk. It is moving!

  6. I think it's a great illustration of how God can use us in the process of reconciling the world to Himself, if we will be like Casey and truly live our lives for Him and not for ourselves. Thanks for sharing it.

  7. Great article! By the way HAPPY BIRTHDAY!
    Jim and I had our devotion before I left for work this morning and read your name in the mission magazine.

  8. Dr. Terry W. DorsettAugust 12, 2010 at 10:00 PM

    It was my honor to baptize Mary this past Sunday. Though Kasey was unable to be present, she did send a lovely prayer that she wrote which one of our ladies read on her behalf. It was very moving.