How courageous are you?

Trinity Pres Church copy

I am still working out my discussion of what would capture the attention and respect of a watching world and help them want to hear what we have to say about our beliefs in Jesus. If many of our core convictions as Christians are openly questioned, if not ridiculed, how can we establish a credible lifestyle of courage?

It’s interesting to me that not many people who actually are courageous would ever dare call themselves that. But certain dynamics hold true about real courage.

I was always taught that courage is not the absence of fear but the resolve to do what is right, even in the midst of fear. I have heard it described as strength in the face of hardship, opposition, or pain.

Webster’s Dictionary defines courage as “mental or moral strength to persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”

One of the first consequences of sin in the Garden of Eden was that suddenly Adam and Eve were fearful. They were self-conscious and ashamed — the very opposite of courageous. And if, by sin, we have torn at the very roots of our security by squandering the Presence and acceptance of God, then living fearfully makes sense. After all, we have angered the most powerful and unavoidable Person in the Universe!

But in all of the stories of God’s grace throughout His Word, again and again, messengers and angels even greet people with this common refrain. “Do not fear.”

Only the Gospel makes it possible for fear to be conquered. Amy K Hutchens, a Johns Hopkins-trained neuro-specialist, contended that universally people live with two enduring fears: “Am I good enough?" And “Do I have enough?”

In His mercy, God, in Christ, came against our worst failures and most terrifying fears. Jesus died to remove all of our guilt, and if we trust in Him alone, we are completely, totally, utterly, and permanently forgiven. We also are credited with His righteousness in our place so against fear #1, “Am I good enough?” God’s resounding answer is “YES!!!" But not because of anything we have done. It’s only because of God’s gift of mercy in Christ.

And then, He seals us with His own indwelling Presence, the gift of His own Spirit! God, who made us and owns us, who orders out every detail of every circumstance in every second, is not merely for us. He is eternally with us and in us (and Jesus even adds that we are in Him). So against fear #2, “Do I have enough?” God freely declares, “ALWAYS AND FOREVER!!”

So catch this: courage is less of a decision we make or a quality we pursue, and it’s more of a by-product of trusting and walking with Jesus in the amazing realities of His Gospel. So while the world around us loses its collective sanity, we can actually remain composed and even joyful.

Our courage is paradoxical in that we can say genuinely that we “are not doing it,” and yet we can live fearlessly, securely, boldly, and with confidence because of everything that Jesus has done and is continuing to do — even in scared, humble people like us.