I’ve worked a couple of stints helping my brother do commercial HVAC. Building automation has been a growth industry for at least 10 or 12 years now. The average homeowner can lock and unlock doors, turn lights on and off and adjust the thermostat from a mobile app. I knew about text and email alerts to warn about dangerous or undesirable conditions, but it never occurred to me to consider the usefulness of these things in terms of insurance. Church Mutual Insurance Company sent us a box full of sensors a year or two ago with installation instructions. There was an incentive, in terms of our premiums, to install them. We now have space temp sensors and wet floor sensors in our church building, connected through a wireless router to a monitoring service. If the temperature inside the church drops to near freezing, or water is detected by the water heater or under the kitchen sin, I will get text alerts and a phone call. It’s cheaper for the insurance company to give away the sensors than to fix major damage that can occur if problems go unnoticed. Insurance is all about calculating risk. It’s the same thing with companies that offer auto insurance rates based on your driving habits, which they will monitor when you install their device to track those driving habits.
It makes sense to avoid unnecessary risk. Changing the smoke detector batteries and monitoring for carbon monoxide could save lives, not just lower your insurance premium. Some risk in ministry cannot be avoided. You can take all the prudent steps to avoid being sued, and be transparent in your financial dealings to make sure you are never prosecuted by the IRS. But to love God and love others means putting yourself out there, investing in the lives of others in ways that make us vulnerable. Sooner or later someone is going to hurt you. It might be a person, a family, a ministry or a co-worker but if it hasn’t happened yet it probably will. The ones we love the most are in the position to do the most damage. Sometimes relationships end and spiritual relationships are no different.
You could avoid all risk by avoiding, well, everything. If you have ever been through a bad breakup, your may have responded by giving up on others. If you make a decision to never love another person then you can never be hurt that way again. And that might work out for you in the long run, romantically anyway. But making a conscious decision to not love others – to not witness, lead a Bible study, sing in a choir, coach a ball team, cook supper on Wednesday night, join a small group – by cutting all ties with anything that could lead to heartache does not work God’s will. Jesus knew who and what Judas was before he betrayed him. Jesus used the Old Testament prophets as an analogy of what the crowd he was speaking to would someday do to him. He continued to pray for them as they were hanging him on the cross.
The world we live in is sinful, fallen and broken. Answering the call to ministry, using your spiritual gift to bless others, loving the way Jesus loved, all of these things, sooner or later, will hurt you. God loves you… and he loves the people that hurt you. Sometimes that’s more than we can deal with to think about. Jesus came into the world to save sinners. Some of those very sinners conspired against him, mocked him, spat in his face, pulled his beard out of the skin, drove a crown of thorns onto his head, whipped him with 39 lashes and nailed him to a cross. He could have avoided that. He could have fallen at the feat of Satan in exchange for the kingdoms of the world… but that would not have brought God’s kingdom. God could have spared his Son and passed summary judgement on humanity… but then none of us that know him and love him would have been saved. The examples we are given in scripture is to put yourself out there, love others with a tender heart, even though we know it is going to hurt.
The hurt is temporary. There may be some scars that never heal in this lifetime but life is short compared to eternity. Everything we endure now will seem trivial compared to the joy and reward that awaits. The Bible compares the physical and emotional pain of this life to birth pains which are quickly forgotten once a mother holds a precious newborn in her arms. It will all be worth it. You may have been through a time, or perhaps a time is coming, when that seems hard to believe. The temptation will be there to give up, not bother, to harden your heart and forget about every else. He will wipe away all tears.
Some risk can be avoided while other risk is pretty much guaranteed. None of us will endure what Christ did so that we can be where he is and share his inheritance. We will enter the joy of our Lord. There will be a new heaven and a new earth when the former things have passed away. Believe in faith that his words and promises are true. I would bet my life on it.