Courage. It looks different for everyone, but courage is not being some action hero in some blockbuster film. Courage is the ability to carry something out in the presence of fear. To exhibit strength in the presence of hardship. For many, courage was exiting the LCVP (Higgins Boats) on the beaches of Cicily, France and in the Pacific theatre during World War 2. Some of those lads were as young as 16-17 years of age, facing the German 88s or the Japanese light 96 machine gun. Regardless of age, each man exiting those vehicles understood the odds of being killed were high, but they had a job to do and did it. They were fearful but faced their fears; they had hardships and exhibited strength.
In the above example of soldiers in World War 2, these individuals were trained and had an objective, to liberate Europe from the grip of Adolf Hitler's Nazi Germany and the axis of evil of Musalini's Italy and the Imperial Japanese forces throughout the Pacific. Now here is the thing, all those men are pretty much dead. Either they died in the campaign, or death overtook them throughout the years. Even the world leaders such as Churchill, Wilson, Mackenzie King, Stalin, and military powerhouses such as Eizenhoauer, MacArthur and McNaughton all have died and are no more. All of these individuals had doubts, struggles and fears—all could function in that fear and thus were courageous.
Taking it away from the military aspect, let's look at surgeons. These individuals are trained to perform precise surgeries on the human body. One wrong slip of the scalpel and one improper stitch could lead to all sorts of issues. Some surgeries are so difficult; patients are informed they may not make it out. This takes courage. Courage for the doctor and courage for the patient. Even if the doctor is successful, let's say, in performing a heart transplant, the patient will still die. The patient and the doctor will age, and in time, their bodies will succumb to aging, and they will be no more. So what is the point?
If you are a Christian, regardless if you accept it or not, you are in a battle. The war you are participating in is not storming the beach or moving across a desert, but is spiritual and daily. Now let's say the Lord's return is still far off. Do we want to be remembered as individuals who exhibited courage or cowardice? As you think about that, take comfort in these words written to the church at Ephesus.
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:10-20 NASB)
There is much to this passage, but what is essential is to understand what the church is up against is indeed spiritual. The spirit of the antichrist is at work today (1 John 2:18-22), and the front lines are observed through everyday life. Read Romans 1:18-32 for a refresher, but clearly, the pressures being placed on the Christian church, the overstepping from the government, and the increasing of the homosexual agenda are all part of the battle. The Christian is indeed a soldier in the Lord's army. Our weapons are not physical but spiritual. Look at verse 17, to the sword of the Spirit. We learn how sharp and accurate this sword is in Hebrew 4:12
For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.
Knowing that the Christian has armour and the sword is sharp, why are so many Christians not in the battle? It is a lack of courage. Now, do not be taken aback by this. It is neither an insult nor an attack. Understandably, there is fear, but fear cannot be the motivator. Never has the Christian supposed to be acceptable to society. They are not to fit in, the message is opposed, and hostility is present. When a believer understands this, they can actually function.
Jesus tells us that if the world hates us, it hated him before it hated us (John 15:18). Paul, in his pastoral epistle, writes that when believers desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, will be persecuted 2 Tim 3:12). So dear Christian, why to be alarmed or surprised that the world hates you (1 John 3:13). Over the last three years, there have been men who have kept their churches open despite the fact that civil governments attempt to usurp the authority that belongs to overseers alone. We have seen men get arrested and stand firm. We have witnessed street preachers faithfully proclaim Christ while some got arrested and prayer warriors removed from abortion mills, yet they continued forward. And regardless of the level of fear or uncertainty their faithfulness would cause, they went forward. That is courage. World War 2 would never have been a victory for the Allies if everyone on the LCVP, and neither will the church advance unless the believer get off the pew.
Turning our attention to the surgeon. The same principles apply. If the surgeon let their fear control them, they would not have the courage to perform the surgery. If the patient did not have the courage to go under and place their truth in the surgeon, they would not get better. But here is the big thing, and many Christians miss this. They are more important than a simple soldier and can perform a great task than the surgeon, which is sharing the Gospel. When Christian shares the Gospel, proclaiming the message of salvation, they are indeed on the front lines. The enemy would love nothing more than to take us out because he knows very well faith comes by hearing and hearing the words of Christ (Romans 10:17). When the general proclamation of the Gospel goes out, there is an effectual call, and the Holy Spirit brings about the regeneration to the believer - they are given a new heart (Ezk 36:26, Titus 3:5). So to put this all in perspective, we are not just soldiers on the front lines, we are medics on the front lines. We have the message of eternal life and are called to share it, so be sure that the enemy will bombard us with everything in his arsenal to stop us.
How to take this all in? First, remember that the armour the Christian wears bears the emblem of our King. Our king has made sure we have his word to equip us. We have the Holy Spirit who leads, teaches, and gives us understanding and courage. We can stand because the Word tells us so. The disciples and the ancient church and all those who have gone before us stood. We have the message of salvation and are called to share this news to a lost and dying world (2 Tim 1:7, Ps 31:24, John 14:27).
Now Christan, please understand the homosexual community will not let up. The pressures of what you can and cannot say will not lighten up. The pressures will get heavier and the heat hotter, and you can either curl up into a ball and remain in a place where fear controls you, or you can be one of courage where you move forward in spite of fear. The day is here when courage is needed, what saith you?
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)