If you have never read anything by John Piper, Risk is Right: Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It would be a perfect introduction to his thinking. It is accessible, only 51 pages in a smaller format (in a regular size book it would probably be about half that). This is a book you can easily read in less than an hour. You will probably want to take longer than that to chew on what is here, but this text won’t swamp you for weeks. Although it is a short read, it is not meant to be a quick read. It is densely concentrated with thick truths from God’s word. In that sense, it is a classic Piper text.
His thesis is found at the beginning of the second chapter: “If our single, all-embracing passion is to make much of Christ in life and death, and if the life that magnifies him most is the life of costly love, then life is risk, and risk is right. To run from it is to waste your life.”
The book wades through the biblical data on the subject of risk. Although we are often tricked into believing that to be a Christian is to live a life of comfort and ease, that God’s will is for us to never experience anything that would be unpleasant to us, Piper shows how this perspective is foreign to Scripture. He reveals how God’s glory and our joy are most supremely revealed through his will being accomplished in and through us, whether by life or by death. Starting with Paul in Philippians 1:21 and tracing this theme through the lives of key Old Testament figures (Joab and Abishai, Esther, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) he shows how risk is always a part of following God. Throughout the text he continually comes back to the idea that we need to “destroy the myth of security” that we often live with. He claims that we are at greater risk of wasting our lives than losing them if we fail to follow the call of Jesus.
David Platt, the perfect candidate to write the foreword for this book, says in his introductory remarks:
Though the challenges facing the church are great, the commission Christ has given is clear: make disciples of all the nations. Spend your lives spreading the gospel of God for the glory of God to the ends of the earth. As you go, trust in his sovereign authority, depend on his indwelling presence, and experience his incomparable joy.
We can rest content in casual, convenient, cozy, comfortable Christian lives as we cling to the safety and security this world offers. We can coast through a cultural landscape marked by materialism, characterized by consumerism, and engulfed individualism. We can assent to the spirit of this age and choose to spend our lives seeking worldly pleasures, acquiring worldly possessions, and pursuing worldly ambitions–all under the banner of cultural Christianity.
Or we can decide that Jesus is worth more than this…
I loved Risk is Right. A book like this gets your heart-rate up and puts a little Christ-centered crazy back on the forefront of your mind. I’m going to order a bunch of copies and give them away as a “Piper primer.” If you have read Don’t Waste Your Life, I believe Risk is Right is kind of like the preface to it. While Don’t Waste Your Life goes into greater depth and detail, Risk is Right provides fresh perspective on this one subject: taking risks for Jesus. I’d rather lose my life than waste it.