When I think of bravery in 2017, I think of the people of Aleppo—the fighters for freedom—and the mommas and papas protecting their children. I think of Desmond Doss who rescued 75 wounded soldiers at Hackshaw Ridge during World War II in 1945. I reflect on the story of one woman who came forward during an altar call at a local church and let the staff know she was being trafficked. When I think of bravery, my name doesn’t come to mind at all.
What does bravery mean? Audacity. Fearlessness. True grit. Courageous behavior. Courageous character.
I was filled with questions. How does “True Bravery” exist in the life of a Christian? How do you and I possess bravery this year? Why now more than ever does bravery distinguish someone who calls themselves a Christian and someone who has made Jesus Lord?
I’ve since discovered that “True Bravery” for a Christ follower boils down two things—believing in and living out the truth that Jesus is Lord.
For centuries growing up in America and professing to be a Christian has been accepted as patriotic and normal for society. Slow and slippery has been the slope towards hostility in our country for anyone who would say Jesus is Lord and for anyone who would profess that there is no other way to God except through Christ.
J.C. Ryle, a nineteenth-century Anglican bishop, noticed a trend in Christian living—one that displayed a lack of living out the truth that is Jesus Christ.
“There are thousands of men and women who go to churches and chapels every Sunday, and call themselves Christians. Their names are in the baptismal register. They are reckoned Christians while they live. They are married with a Christian marriage-service. They are buried as Christians when they die. But you never see any “fight” about their religion! Of spiritual strife, and exertion, and conflict, and self-denial, and watching, and warring stye know literally nothing at all. Such Christianity…is not the Christianity of the Bible. It is not the religion which the Lord Jesus founded, and His Apostles preached. True Christianity is ‘a fight.’” — Tim Keller, Hidden Christmas
If we desire to be brave in this present age, Jesus has to be Lord of our lives. Otherwise, we will fear what is to come and shy away from standing up for justice, mercy, truth and the Gospel. If Jesus isn’t the Lord of our lives, we will camouflage with culture—even Christian culture—and retreat when given an opportunity to speak about Christ.
His book, Hidden Christmas, Keller shares a talk he heard years ago when two questions were posed to Christians:
- Are you willing to obey anything the Bible clearly says to do, whether you like it or not?
- Are you willing to trust God in anything He sends into your life, whether you understand it or not?
“True Bravery” means taking action, bowing in submission, knowing Who’s on your side and surrounding yourself with truthful people. Let’s take a look at each.
1. Take action.
We must not forget that this is not our home; we are simply passing through. So while we have breath today, we are to do our part to see that others know about Jesus. Opportunities will come our way multiple times a day where we can speak of the hope we have in Christ Jesus. When we can’t speak, we can pray. Prayers for boldness, timing and favor to speak up are prayers that aren’t out of obligation but are out of supernatural love for others. We are not to live life because we are mere human, but to live life because Christ is Lord; and that changes everything. There’s enough people out there doing good. We have a reason, you and I, for why we do what we do. We must talk about God daily. That’s “True Bravery.”
“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15, ESV).
2. Bow in submission.
Just as Jesus prayed, so we ought. “Not my will, but Yours be done.” “True Bravery” means submission to the King and Lord of all. My pastor and husband shares often to our church family that we should live utterly dependent on God. Yet, in our Christian societies, we create a lifestyle that has subtly and non-subtly set us up for comfort and safety. Yet, we are called to leave the familiar and surrender to the story He is writing for us, for mankind. I have discovered that God’s story for us all often doesn’t include what we conjure up in our head, but what’s already written in the Holy Scriptures. He plans for us to feed the hungry and cloth the naked, to love the least of these and to consider others better than ourselves. Then, they will know we are Christians by our love.
John 13:35 says, “by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
3. Know Who’s on your side.
I fail to recount all the ways God has been faithful to me, my family, our church, our nation and this world. He is fighting for us. He is fighting for justice and against oppression. He desires that all come to know Him. We can’t come close to holding the compassion for this broken world, but we can live in such a way that it is clear we’re not caring and ministering in our own strength. God is on the side of broken-hearted and the lost. If our hearts will break over what breaks His, then we know Who’s side we are on.
“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (John 6:40).
4. Surround yourself with truthful people.
While the new year might bring about challenges and circumstances you must face alone, you can do so in truth. Our people need us, whether that be serving those at church or those at work, aiding those in our community or being present for those in our homes. They need us healthy and truthful. This develops in us as we surround ourselves with people who speak truth into us. You won’t see these things on Instagram but will experience these things through phone conversations and your presence with the handful of people who will not back down or say what we want them to say. If we are to be brave in this present day and time, we must spend time with those who are engaged in Kingdom activity on earth like their souls dependent on it. “True Bravery” inspires “True Bravery.”
Be brave, daughter of God. Profess Christ is Lord. And may His kingdom come and His will be done on earth this year as it is in Heaven.
- J.C. Ryle’s Holiness: It’s Nature, Difficulties, Hindrances, and Roots
- Christian biographies of bravery:
- A Passion for the Impossible: The Life of Lillias Trotter
- Mother Teresa: A Life Inspired
- Redemption At Hacksaw Ridge: The Gripping True Story That Inspired The Movie
Published January 16, 2017