CNN reported last week that a Florida man was badly mauled by a black leopard after paying $150 to pet it and have a photoshoot with it – up close and personal. He required two surgeries after the fully-grown leopard bit the right side of his head. The big cat’s owner is facing misdemeanor citations for allowing contact with a dangerous animal and for “maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe condition causing extensive damage,” according to CNN.
This modern-day Daniel in the lions’ den, sans the restraining hands of God, illustrates an important point for Christians. While Christians are often viewed as radical risk-takers by a world that does not understand the challenging lives of missionaries, the unselfish love of others and “widow’s mite”-style charity, rarely are we called to choose the riskier of two options. For a Christian, obeying the will of God is always a safer option than disobeying Him. Even when asked to go into physical danger, financial instability or the valley of the shadow of death, Christians have the assurance that any danger or struggle we face on earth is only temporary. Though we may lose life, limb, and loved ones on earth, we have the hope of eternal life and eternal peace waiting for us.
Also, during those trials on earth, Christians have the promise that they are never alone. Although the world may view David facing Goliath or Elijah confronting the prophets of Baal as a risk, God was with them the entire time. Even for those in Scripture or history who faced suffering or death for following the will of God, in the end, it did not make an impact on what truly mattered. The apostles counted it joy that they should suffer physical harm for the cause of Christ (Acts 5:41). Paul writes in Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and self-control. Christians should have no fear following the will of God, even if the world scoffs at it. Even when obedience comes with the chance of personal loss, Romans 8:28 reassures Christians, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
However, this does not mean Christians are invincible. Going into the leopard’s den for no reason is foolishness. Satan himself quoted Psalm 91:11-12, “For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” But Christ’s example shows this kind of risk-taking is not biblical, as He replied, “It is written again, ‘Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God’” (Matthew 4:7b). Following the will of God will never be a foolish risk for a Christian. This does not mean Christians should engage in absurd risks that do not further the kingdom of God—such as photoshoots with dangerous animals.
Proverbs 27:12 cautions, “The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” While Christians should not live in fear or anxiety, prudence, discretion and wisdom are gifts from God. Christians should seek to step out on the water when Christ calls, keep our eyes on Him, but not step out when Christ is not calling. Prudence never goes against the will of God and the will of God never takes you where He will not sustain you.