“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulphur. This is the second death.”
Revelation chapter 21, verse 8
Deciding moments occur infrequently in a person’s (and nation’s) history. In those moments, the courageous shine, and the fearful are forgotten in the annals of wishful thinking, and memories of what could-have-been.
We are approaching deciding days as a people. Questions like, “What do we want our children’s future to look like?” range through the minds of many. Concerns regarding democracy, freedom, and truth are whispered among some, and pondered by many.
What will the world look like in ten years? I am not certain. What I do know, is what has been known for generations: the future belongs to the courageous, not the cowardly.
On the Christian and cowardice
It is worthy of note, that among those first listed as being consigned to the lake of fire in the age to come, are the cowardly. Cowardice is antithetical to the life of faith in Jesus, the Christ. It is the Christian’s duty, to bear witness to the Truth.
At the end of the age, people of great courage will arise – these ones will remain obedient to the commands of God, and faithful to Jesus in a context where it will be tremendously costly to do so.
They will keep the faith and hold fast to the testimony of Jesus in the face of immense pressure, and the temptation to draw back and compromise. They will endure patiently, with joy and boldness - and by doing so, triumph over their enemies (Revelation chapter 12, verses, 11 and 17b, & chapter 14, verse 12).
Perhaps those days are nearer, rather than farther away. Presently, Christians in the West are experiencing minor pressures with less costly consequences (our lives are not yet at stake) regarding issues such as Biblical sexuality and morality. In the context of these relatively smaller pressures, we find ourselves unwilling to say abortion is murder, waffle at whether homosexuality is a sin, and balk at the statement that there are only two genders (male and female – Genesis chapter 1, verse 27).
If we stumble in the face of these minor pressures, do we honestly believe we will be able to stand in days of greater intensity?
As the Lord challenged the prophet Jeremiah,
“If you have raced with men on footand they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”
(Jeremiah chapter 12, verse 5)
The answer is “no, we cannot”. If we stumble now, we will stumble then. Therefore, we must learn to race with the footmen, as a matter of urgency.
Again, it is the Christian’s duty to bear witness to the Truth. Preservation of life, comfort, ease, reputation or profession, must never be an excuse to disobey the costly call to follow Jesus. They are not guiltless who do nothing, who remain silent in the face of injustice, wickedness and unrighteousness.
This is the call of discipleship. Central to this call, is a right understanding of grace. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), was a young, brilliant German pastor and theologian, whose courageous and outspoken opposition to Nazi rule (and challenges to a complacent and compromised Church), led to his arrest by the Gestapo in 1943. During his imprisonment he ministered to his fellow prisoners and guards until his execution by the S.S. in 1945.
In Bonhoeffer's piece, “Costly Grace” from his book “Discipleship”, he summarized the dilemma faced by the Christian Church in Europe (and I daresay, in the present), in its response to the evil of that day, as thus:
“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace. Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares…
Costly grace on the other hand, is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sale a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows Him.
…Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: “Ye were bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:29), and what has cost God much, cannot be cheap for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.”
Courage is costly. And yes, it is the path the Christian must follow if he is to be a disciple of Christ.
Determine to walk the path of courage today.
Francesca Tavares (West Indies) is a daughter, sister, friend, avid reader, attorney-at-law, and porridge connoisseur. She enjoys Jesus and fulfilling His purposes for her life on Earth.