Tolle Lege: Reckless Abandon

Readability: 1

Length: 204 pp

Author: David Sitton

Few books capture the cross-carrying, lay-down-your-life, radical nature of discipleship that Jesus says is essential. Fewer still capture it by example. Here is not just a call for us to lay down our lives so the the name of Jesus will be exalted by the nations, here is an example of it. David Sitton’s Reckless Abandon is a modern missions tale that grips me the way the classics do. It makes me want to cry out with Paul, “But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”

reckless abandon /rˈe-kləs ə-bˈan-dən/: to give oneself unrestrainedly to the cause of Jesus and the promotion of his kingdom without concern for danger and the consequences of that action.

By this definition are we to be recklessly abandoned for Christ and the gospel among the nations? Or should we be more cautious? Should we only go into the world with the gospel where we can safely do so? What do we do when we find that it’s impossible to manage the risks or to minimize the dangers to reasonable levels? Do we go – no matter what? Or do we wait until the red carpet rolled out for us?

It is puzzling to me as a leader in mission, when I am cautioned, even rebuked, by stateside believers that we should restrict our missionaries to only the “safe places.” It seems as though many in the West believe we should attempt to engage only those people groups that present “reasonable risks” to our missionaries. The not-so-subtle assumption is that missionaries should be routinely evacuated out of danger zones.

Why is it presumed that American missionaries have the “right” to require safe living conditions? By the way, this is almost completely a Western concept. Believers in the rest of the world assume that following Christ is naturally hazardous to their health! They live as lambs among wolves, expecting to be mistreated because wolves eat lambs! Why do we think we should be exempt from what Jesus said would be the normal experience of His followers?

If it is admirable for military men to die on foreign soil for American freedom and laudable for firemen to risk their lives for citizens in peril, why are missionaries dubbed as irresponsible fools when they choose to remain in perilous situations with their families, “risking their necks” for their friends and the gospel of Christ?

Here is my rationale for regularly sending missionaries with the gospel into hostile surroundings: Risk assumes the possibility of loss and is always determined by the value of the mission. The gospel is so valuable that no risk is unreasonable. Life is gained by laying it down for the gospel. If I live, I win and get to keep on preaching Christ. If I die, I win bigger by going directly to be with Christ and I get to take a few tribes with me.

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