I have to admit that when my pastor used the lepers from 2 Kings 7:3-4 as examples of those who didn’t lose out on opportunities from playing it safe, I found myself skeptical. These guys were living just outside the city gate of Samaria, unable to go inside because of their illness and unable to leave because a Syrian army had the city throttled in a tight siege. Rather than slowly succumbing to the siege, they elected to try their luck with the enemy camp. “If they kill us, then we were going to die anyway,” they essentially say as they make their way to the Syrian camp.
These guys really weren’t taking a risk, were they? I’m sure they had been depending on gifts of food from the people inside the city. With the siege in full force, nobody inside would be sharing food with them now. They were most likely starving a little more quickly than the people inside. So what did they have to lose by heading to the enemy camp? That was my thought as I listened to the pastor’s sermon and checked my memory for some better examples of those who truly risked themselves rather than playing it safe.
Matthew left a lucrative tax-collecting franchise to follow Jesus. So did Zacchaeus. Peter, Andrew, James, and John all left the family fishing business to traipse about the Galilee with a homeless guy. And Paul was on the fast track to Pharisee superstar status when he ditched it all to follow Jesus. All of these seemed like better examples than those lepers.
As admirable as the risk-taking of the disciples mentioned above proves, as bold as the steps taken by Abraham and Noah and Daniel appear, there’s something to be said for the action of the lepers. Those guys recognized that they had nothing. They not only had nothing but they had nothing to lose. Unlike most people, these men saw reality. They were as good as dead already.
Look at Thomas in John 11:16: “Let’s go so we may die with Him.” It seemed foolish to the disciples to head back to the environs of Jerusalem where the powers wanted to kill Jesus. Still, Thomas couldn’t do anything but follow. He seemed to have understood on that day that if following Jesus was a risk, then it was a risk too good not to take.
Like most people, I like safety. I keep good insurance on my house and car. I’ve saved money for emergencies and for retirement. Somehow I don’t think these are moves that God would mark off as foolish, but I also hope that when the opportunity to take a risk comes along, I won’t be encumbered by my safety and security. Instead, I’d like to think that I would behave like these men with rotting flesh, stepping out with nothing to lose. Because in reality, I have nothing of value to lose.