Matt’s been bringing it home (for a few weeks now) that we need to be courageous and that we can show courage even in the most simplistic and mundane of situations.
As a church, we’ve investigated courage as authenticity - becoming vulnerable with your whole heart for the sake of someone else. Simply being who you are for other people - risking exposure - where people can take advantage of you, hurt you. Not trying to play the self-preservation game, all for the sake of other people.
We tend to think of courage as the BIG moment stuff: Christians remaining in Syria or the university students in Oregon who still professed their faith in Christ after seeing others gunned down for their own professions.
So as we sit in the gathering, does it seem trite that Matt keeps talking about how we can be courageous in the fairly bland tasks of our everyday lives? or just by being “who we were created to be”?
My first reaction...Yes.
I was listening to the sermon this week and thinking, “But is me doing X really equivalent to someone else’s Y?”
And the only answer I could come up with was No...it’s not. The daily boring, faithful, and “brave” acts in raising my girls or writing this blog post are not in any way equivalent to the aforementioned tremendous moments of courage. Me making dinner is nothing like when Orthodox brothers and sisters in Syria stand up in the face of extreme oppression...real oppression.
In the gathering, I was convicted a bit that I live such a comfortable life and that I am not doing something more visible for the Kingdom of God whilst raising my children. I stay at home and hug little people all day. That’s my job. It’s cushy.
I had no idea how I was going to once again write about courage and not feel like a fraud.
It wasn’t until hearing from a friend concerning a really awful event that something hit me:
In the big moments, we do what we know.
We go to a default setting of sorts.
Matt hasn’t harped on courage for the last several weeks because he thinks that we’re daft or slow to learn….or because he thinks that we are living lives equivalently brave to the persecuted and martyred.
No, Matt talks about being brave and courageous in our fairly easy, day-to-day tasks because if we’re courageous in the places we have the opportunity to be, we create a habit of courage. We build up a spiritual muscle memory of being brave, taking heart, making the hard choice, doing the right thing.
Ask any musician or athlete. When the adrenaline hits and it’s time to perform - in the do or die moments, if one has put in the practice, the time, and created good habits, the body goes on autopilot and defaults to what it knows best.
That’s why footballers still do basic dribbling drills while training. It’s why orchestras tirelessly rehearse before a performance.
If our basic default is courage, our spirit will default to it in the really hard moments….like rush hour traffic, game day in Athens, or even when we are facing certain death.
And while I could end it by simply saying, “In the hard moments, look to Jesus,” I’m not going to. Because, you’ve heard that before. You’ve heard it since day one. Matt taught about looking to Jesus as the perfecter and founder of our faith. He told us to look to Jesus who was brave for us. The idea itself is not foreign to us.
And while I can’t say this with 100% certainty concerning the whole of the readership, my guess would be that we’re not all living courageous lives and that the reason for that is that we think that looking to Jesus is a passive act.
But looking to Jesus is NOT a passive act.
And that’s why many of us find ourselves riddled with fear, anxiety, control issues, or feeling not like a hero. We have tried to make courage and faith passive, but it requires action.
Our bravery has to be honed. It must be sharpened. It must be maintained. That means discipline. It means: I sit with the Word and take strength from it. I have strategies for doing the brave thing in the little moments. I count to ten. I leave a room. I take a thought captive. I push myself out of my comfort zone when I feel led. I have people who keep me accountable and ask the hard questions.
I think we read Hebrews and we are so thankful and relieved that salvation IS by grace and faith and not by works.
But that doesn’t mean that we don’t have to work. Faith and Joy: these things require a re-training and a rewiring of our fallen and broken bodies and souls. Yes, salvation brings forth a restoration for our souls; but our minds and bodies default to a broken setting.
So, yes. We must be intentional in our faith. In our courage. We must practice it in basic and simple places. I think this is why we continue to explore what courage is.
It’s a bit more complicated than we may have originally thought.
Courage and bravery and faith and joy are not just a passive washing over of power (or at least it is not that on a daily basis). It is a balance. A tension - of the active and the passive.
There is no courage without fear.
There is no faith without doubt.
There is no joy without sorrow.
These things exist in the same space.
Which will you default to when you find yourself in a hard moment - when your spirit defaults to what it knows best?
Author: Lydia Wells