I have this tin plated picture I bought that has one of my favorite quotes on it. It is a quote from a western philosopher you might have heard of named John Wayne. It says “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyways.” I love that quote and it is an encouragement to me in a lot of the battles that we do. Sometimes when we are called to go out and engage in different things at the abortion mill or street preaching, I am reminded that even though you are afraid, you do it anyways because it is the right thing to do. I think of the quote when I am doing pastoral counseling and I need to say something, and I am scared to say it, but I know have to do it anyways.
When we think about courage there is more truth in this quote than I think the good cowboy knew and that is this: We will all fear something. Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is having more fear in the right object than you do the wrong one.
We live in a time when I think that many in the church in America are scared to death. We are. We're living in a time when it seems as if the enemy is gaining ground. In such a short period of time, it seems as if morality has and is rapidly changing. I say seems because we often have a short sighted view of history. But it does seem that the enemy is taking ground. Persecution is on the horizon and already here.
Fear has captivated the church and keeping it from being effective. Fear in combination with a love of comfort has made so much of the church ineffective. These two things have captivated the church: Comfort and fear.
We are comfortable with the world and the world's things. We are comfortable in our positions. With that comfort comes fear of the loss of it. We fear being hated. We fear being persecuted. We fear the loss of reputation or loss of friends and family. We fear man. This fear makes us ineffective.
This love of comfort and a fear of loss of it has created a new reformation in the church with its own five solas. Instead
Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gratia, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Glorie, we have today because of cowardness and comfort embraced Sola feelings. My feelings dictate everything. How I feel is the determiner of what is right and wrong. How I feel determines how I will act. With that we have embraced Sola Relationship. I feel that I have a relationship with God. Its all about me and him alone drinking coffee. Christianity has become void of the commands of Christ and hyper individualized in such away to have eroticized it. Salvation is me and my relationship alone and who are you pastor to tell me about my relationship with God.
We get there through Sola Pragmatism by Sola Niceness for Sola Ego- my own glory alone.
Cowardliness makes us unfaithful. It was fear that kept the Israelites from taking the promise land. The twelve spies entered the land and ten of them came back only seeing how wicked and evil and big the people and their gates were. They were afraid and did not believe what God said and so they wondered around the wilderness for 40 years rather than taking the promised land.
Fear led them to not belief God and therefore they wasted away their lives. Fear will lead us into unfaithfulness and compromise in order to not be hated. Fear of man and love of comfort and ease make our love of God grow cold and cause us to compromise on the battles we face.
Yet God calls us to be courageous. He calls us to be bold. Over 50 times the scriptures say “take courage.” 143 times the scriptures say fear not. God calls us to courage and boldness. He calls us to faith. This courage is as I said earlier not the absence of fear. It is fear in the right object that will lead to courage. It is the fear of the Lord. When we fear God rightly and above all else, we find that he upholds us and strengthens us to take courage. He will enable us to take the promised land and to disciple the nations.