What is courage in Christ, the founder of our faith? The definition for courage must be closely relevant to the unconditional love and the absolute truth which are the bottom lines of faith in Christ. Unconditional love, because Jesus has no human enemy to hate. He wants everyone to take a step of courage, reside in His truth, and sacrificially overcome personal and external obstacles that separate us from one another and from God. Courage can therefore be defined as willingness to come out of one’s comfort zone, overcome ignorance, passivity, indifference, hardship, hostility, intimidation, threat, danger, persecution, and further speak and act in favor of truth no matter how severe the pressures and pains from oppositions may be. This courage does not allow us to hate our intimidators and persecutors, but creates in us sympathy towards them who put themselves in miserable situations by investing their money and time to persecute us and others. We, rather, return good against their evil, pray and hope that our kindness may move them to question their hostility and allow Christ to change them. There is, therefore, nothing that can hold back Christians from courage unless they decide to turn their eyes from Jesus and follow a different leader.
In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world. (John 16:33b)Jesus is saying that we must expect to be humiliated and persecuted in the world that is characterized by hate but should not respond to hatred with hatred. Hatred cannot be overcome by hatred. Hatred creates more hatred. Love is the only solution for hatred. Love is the fruit of heaven, but hatred is the fruit of hell and Satan. Love leads hearts to reconciliation but hatred leads to war and bloodshed. If we hate people, it means that we are in the service of Satan who is the prince of separation, but with loving attitudes we prove that we belong to God who loves reconciliation. Love in nature and deed is victorious but hatred is a channel for loss.
This is why Jesus says that He has overcome the world. He demonstrated His love on the Cross against Satan, the prince of hatred, in order to win people for his kingdom. He became victorious, because His love raised Him from the dead. Satan lost as he could not hold Him in the kingdom of death. Jesus rose from the dead and became victorious.
So, our Lord and Savior is telling us that since our eyes are open to the fact that only love can destroy self-centeredness and the separating walls among people, we therefore need to live in accord with His values, have compassion towards others, take sacrificial steps, make our voices louder and proclaim that the only solution for the world is His love and truth.
Satan, the defeated enemy of Christ rises from time to time in order to claim a false victory through nations, groups, leaders, prime ministers and presidents, but the followers of Christ are sent to act as His salt and light, raise their voices and proclaim the victory of Christ enthusiastically even if it may cost their denial, ex-communication, demonization, deprivation, persecution or loss of life. Churches, elders and ministers, youth, seniors, parents, children, and the entire community of Christ are called to take courage in all circumstances and cheer the victory of Christ boldly. Our courage matters in our relationship with Christ in every matter of life.
Some Politicians and minority groups in the West have been imposing non-Christian policies on majority Christians for decades because many Christians were not vocal about the values of Christ, instead voting in favor of those who saw Him as insignificant or just gave lip service in favor of Christ. This in turn encouraged more politicians and leaders to progressively be bold against Christ, favor the capricious values of this world very openly over the truth of Christ and even see themselves qualified to pass laws against Christian practices.
Christians who do not care or choose to stay quiet for Christ are, consciously or unconsciously, following a different gospel which is different to the Gospel of Christ. In His Gospel, Christ says:
Then everyone who shall confess Me before men, I will confess him before My Father who is in Heaven. But whoever shall deny Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in Heaven. (Matthew 10: 32-33)Jesus has not called us to stay indifferent, keep quiet and die with the world; we are called to be courageous, commend our faith to the consciences of people (2 Corinthians 4:2) so that they have a chance to compare, see life in Jesus and come to Him. People need to know that Jesus came to this world in order to take justice to victory so that people could put their trust in Him (Matthew 12: 18-21). If we do not show courage and live victorious, how will people, leaders, prime ministers and presidents put their trust in Jesus without seeing us as good examples for Him?
Proclaiming the victory of Christ and defending our faith in Him are the only ways to correct people’s views about life in Christ. People’s minds are corrupted about Christ and many leaders take this as an opportunity to impose themselves on Christians. Keeping quiet against the ungodly verdicts of politicians that belittle our faith cannot be interpreted as the love of Christ. Christ never ignores people’s sin, no matter who they are, politicians or not. He gave His life to destroy the sin in people’s lives, how can He then show indifference towards sin? It was His absolute opposition to sin that made His disciples so courageous in flourishing His manifold wisdom among their own people and others (Ephesians 3:10). They were aware that the message of Christ was going to cost them highly, but they had also comprehended that the children of truth could not compromise evil but overcome it. This was the motivation behind their courage and zeal in preaching the Gospel to their own nation and to the world, to friends and foes. This courage made them triumphant:
And they overcame him (the Devil) because of the blood of the Lamb, and because of the word of their testimony. And they did not love their soul until death. (Revelation 12: 11).They prevailed, because their plan was the plan of victory and they implemented it joyfully and courageously everywhere. As the Apostle Paul said:
Now thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ, and He revealing through us the odor of the knowledge of Him in every place. (2 Corinthians 2:14)In every place?! Yes, a follower of Christ is a follower of Christ in every place and with everybody; in a prison or in a palace, with a king, emperor, prime minister, president or with a less powerful member of the universe. The everlasting victory we have is with us always and in all places. It is a remedy for everyone and involves the total destruction of all evil schemes in the life and mission of every individual or group of people in the world. It works well and produces pleasing fruits for Christ, if we become courageous. No tribulation, policy or law can hold us back from this courage if we align ourselves with the mind, heart and plan of Christ. That’s why Paul says:
But in all these things we more than conquer through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8: 37-39)Courage is the DNA of Christian faith. It opens the door for God to come down and live among His creatures, ascend and take His people with Him to heaven. John the Baptist paved the way for God with courage 2000 years ago and God came down and revealed Himself in Jesus. It is again the courage of His followers that will pave the way for His return. Indifference, silence or compromise is not going to pave the way for the return of Christ but courage will. Be courageous for the sake of your life, others’ lives and for the sake of Christ.