Wednesday, November 18, 2009

High-Risk Investments

Would you invest your money in a business that was losing money or team up with a partner who's declared bankruptcy in the past? Would you bail out someone who you thought was unlikely to repay you? Would you hire an employee with no work experience for an important job in your company? Any of these things could put our hard-earned money at serious risk, and we would probably be very cautious about all of them. This post isn't about money,  however. It's about people. We often apply the same kind of risk analysis to relationships that we apply to business propositions. If we invest in another person, will we be rewarded or will we be hurt? Will the people we love love us back? If we're there for them, will they be there for us? If we try to help them, will they break our hearts by going back to their old ways? The answers to these questions often shape how we treat other people. We don't want to risk our time or our hearts any more than our money, so we shy away from people who look like high-risk investments.

Jesus didn't balk at risky relationships, however. He invested large amounts of his time and love in a motley collection of fisherman, tax collectors, and all-around nobodies who became his disciples and his friends. He spent time with social outcasts and degenerates, and he invested a lot of effort in trying to explain the truth to people who were very prejudiced against him. Jesus shared much of his ministry with Judas, who would go on to betray him, and he bestowed the leadership of his church on Peter, who would deny and abandon Jesus after his arrest. He devoted himself entirely to saving a world full of sinners who would never be able to give him anything comparable in return. Jesus invested in lost causes, and I think He would like me and my fellow Christians to do the same.

I think that love is sometimes the only remedy for people whose lives have gone horribly wrong. You can give them money and jobs and rehab or you can lock them away in prisons or mental facilities where they can't hurt anyone, but if you want to truly change their lives, you have to love them. You have to invest. That's why I think things like mentoring programs for at-risk youth and prison ministry groups are so important. If we really want to turn a murderer into a good and loving Christian, we have to be willing to look that murderer in the eye and love him, even though he's a murderer. After all, Christ saves us by loving us in spite of our sin. That kind of love is very difficult, but I think it can also be all the more powerful because of that.

On the whole, I think that people have happier and better lives when they know they are truly loved. When love dominates our lives we're healthy and happy. When something else does (money, power, fear, etc.) we're not. In order to make a real difference in someone's life, I need to be able to invest in trying to make love a more central part of that person's life. That can mean putting up with the rough edges as the change takes place. If I wait for someone to be healthy and productive and able to reciprocate before I invest, then I am depriving myself of an opportunity to make a huge difference in that person's life. The friends that I just hang out and have fun with enjoy my company well enough, but I have a much deeper bond with the friends that I've fought for and stood by through thick and thin. These friends have taught me more about life, and my struggles during our relationship have made me a stronger and more loving person. I think I need the challenge of a few risky investments to keep me growing as a Christian, and I relish the chance to help those risky investments become solid investments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post.

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