Sunday, June 27, 2010

Courage

"The mark of the great commander, the excellent leader, the tremendously successful person is courage, and courage is always expressed in the willingness to go forward, to face danger, to take risks with no guarantee of success. All great success is achieved as the result of offensive action, doing something different, and usually faster and more forcefully than your competitor can react. Fortunately, courage is a virtue that can be developed by exercising and practicing it whenever it is required." - Brian Tracy, Victory

Where is the concept of courage in the 21st Century? Where is the concept of courage in 21st Century Christianity? In our politics? In our morals? In our daily lives?

Among the aspects of a free people is the courage to be free. Freedom to believe, freedom to speak, freedom to act are not passive things. Inherently they are active - even the noun freedom indicates a state in which something can be done.

But we have come to treat them as one more item on a list that are heirs to rather than things to be exercised and preserved.

Courage is a difficult thing. It means going forward when all others may be against you, when circumstances may be against you, for that thing which is right and noble and just. As Christians, we should (above all) have courage, both because we know the Creator of the story and we know the ultimate ending.

But too often I find myself quiet when I should be speaking, laughing when I should remain silent, and standing still when I should be acting. Why? Because in the end, I too often lack the courage of my convictions.

Where is the witness of courageous Christians? Not somewhere overseas being persecuted (which is happening all too frequently these days), but here? And not the "poster child" types which the media takes glee in promoting as representative, but garden variety style Christians being true (but bold) for the Gospel?

I realize that they will never make the press the way the flamboyant (and easy targets) will, but surely we should hear something more of them?

Is it possible that we have relegated courage only to certain things and certain areas, or that we have been trained to do so? "Exercise your courage for this thing (which is noble because we as society define it so), but passively accept this (again, because we define it so)."

Could it be that we have traded relevance for courage, hoping that this will accomplish God's work? If so, we have taken a fool's bargain: if there are any historical or social movements where such a philosophy has worked, I cannot bring it to mind.

If so, then we need to repent - like we do for any other sin. We have placed too much trust in our methods, and not enough in our God. God commands us to be courageous, not relevant, and makes no promises as to the temporal results: the apostles were bold in testimony but were beaten, persecuted, and mostly martyred.

Am I willing to be courageous for the Gospel?

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