James Conant gives us something to think about with these words – “Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out.” The apostle Paul often stuck his neck out for the cause of Christ. His brief statement at 1 Corinthians 15:30–31 reveals just how often – “And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” The passage reveals that serving Jesus was a hands-on, high cost and high-risk activity for this beloved apostle of Christ! He testifies he stood in “jeopardy” (or danger) every hour. According to Strong’s concordance the Greek word translated “jeopardy” [kindyneuo pronounced kin-dooon-yoo’-o] means “to undergo peril, be in danger, stand in jeopardy.” The daily death Paul mentioned included the denial of self Jesus calls all His followers to make (Luke 9:23). But in 2 Corinthians 11:23 Paul gives further insight into the phrase “I die daily” when he writes he was “in deaths often” (New American Standard Bible “often in danger of death”). Paul physically, literally, and frequently risked his life for the case of Christ. Because he stuck his neck out for Christ, his words and teachings recorded in the New Testament continue to impact the lives of millions of people around the globe 2,000 years after he lived and died! But Paul was not the only risk-taker in the early church. In Romans 16:3-5a, as he begins a long list of personal greetings to Christians in the church at Rome, Paul himself mentions two wonderful Christians who came out of the safety of their shells and stuck their necks out – way out. Listen to these words: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house.” What fascinating – and challenging – words! We don’t know the circumstances to which the apostle refers. Paul was often in hot water from those who opposed the gospel of Christ (remember the verse above – “in jeopardy every hour”). But at some point Aquila and Priscilla stood up for Paul, and in so doing placed their very lives at risk! Concerning this incident, consider this interesting quote from Burton Coffman’s commentary on the book of ROMANS: “What a wonderful thing it would be to know just what happened. It was an event of the highest drama and significance, and known from one end of the pagan empire to the other; but now, alas, it is a deed buried under centuries of silence, with only this single finger of divine light having been left as a record of so brave and unselfish an act . . . In view of what surely happened, all of the illustrious achievements of this great apostle must be credited to this noble couple who saved his life. No wonder the pen of inspiration wrote their names first.”
The question for most of us is not will we have to die for Jesus. We likely won’t have to (although some might). I’m just asking each of us, starting with myself, how much risk are we willing to take for Christ? Are we willing to take any risk of any kind? The sobering truth is if we won’t put ourselves at risk for Jesus in the here and now, we are putting our souls at risk in the hereafter (see Matthew 10:32-33 * Luke 9:23-24). Thank you Bro. Paul – and Sis. Priscilla and Bro. Aquila. And more than anyone else, let us thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who was willing to be a risk-taker for the sake of our souls.
One more time – will you dare to take some risks for Christ? Will you dare to take any?