Courage. That is what we saw demonstrated twelve years ago this past Wednesday. First responders ran into a burning, structurally damaged set of towers for the sake of the lives of others, not knowing what may await them. When I think about courage on days like last Wednesday, what strikes me is who among those in my day-to-day endeavors are the courageous and who are the timid.
My typical day does not present situations that require the kind of courage our first responders demonstrated on 9/11. I would like to think I would have their kind of courage if ever confronted with a moment such as they faced. Probably many of us would like to think that.
However, life is not made up of extraordinary events, but the ordinariness of every day. That is where we live most of our lives, and it is there that opportunities for courage or cowardice arise. It is the every day that demonstrates who every day we really are.
In my world, the place in which I see courage or cowardice lived out is in politics. Compared to those who risk their lives for the sake of others, politics would seem to require no courage at all. But courage of a sort is required — the courage to do what you think is right in the face of opposition or potential ridicule.
Ironically, it seems that those who in the last 40 years have exhibited the most courage in the political world have drained the courage of many whose very heritage is courage.
The courageous today of whom I speak are those who, in the face of cultural disapprobation and long odds, have relentlessly pushed the homosexual political agenda for the last 40 years. Their courage was misdirected in advancing an agenda that is the antithesis of God’s standards, but nevertheless, if courage is the ability to do something you know is difficult or dangerous, then it was courageous.
Because of their sustained courage, it seems that those who do not share their agenda are the ones now often cowed into silence, and from where I sit, this seems to be particularly true of Christians, and most notably, the local pastor, generally speaking.
How can this be when the history of the church is Christians not forsaking or shying away from what they believed even though they were “stoned, … sawn in two, … put to death with the sword” and went “about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated”?1 It might even be said of those Christians who were being fed to the lions that their courage was such that “they ran to the roar.”
In contrast, many today would say that they are too busy proclaiming the gospel and saving the lost to be entangled in political issues. That may really be what many think, but to allow the law to call evil that which God calls good and vice versa is to unwittingly make the fields in which they labor less conducive to the harvest they seek.
The courage that is our history as Christians and that urgently needs to be recovered is that which gave birth to the Reformation and Protestant theology. It is the courage of Martin Luther who was called before the Emperor himself to recant with respect to what he had written. His words we would do well to ponder:
“What I have just said I think will clearly show that I have well considered and weighed the dangers to which I am exposing myself; but far from being dismayed by them, I rejoice exceedingly to see the Gospel this day, as of old, a cause of disturbance and disagreement. It is the character and destiny of God’s word. “I came not to send peace unto the earth, but a sword,” said Jesus Christ. God is wonderful and awful in His counsels. Let us have a care, lest in our endeavors to arrest discords, we be bound to fight against the holy word of God and bring down upon our heads a frightful deluge of inextricable dangers, present disaster, and everlasting desolations.”2 (emphasis added)
1 Hebrews 11:372