At the beginning of the year, I decided I wanted to live by the word ‘brave’ for 2016. I wanted to overcome fear, and meet life’s opportunities head on; opportunities to learn and grow, to explore and have fun, but mostly to share Christ and be a witness.
I printed out inspirational quotes as reminders, such as “I don’t want to be part of something that can be explained by my own power and ability. I want to be part of something that can only be explained by the power of God.” David Platt and “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire,” and “Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming, ‘Wow! What a ride!’” Hunter S. Thompson. I bought a journal full of motivational quotes and prompts called Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You. I wanted to live without boundaries, push that comfort zone into non-existence, and go for it. Be brave and live.
I started off enthusiastically. I lived with the word ‘brave’ in my mind, shoved fear back, and widened my witnessing comfort zone. But, I did it. It was in my own determination. And that fizzled out with time. I’ve lived the second half of the year remembering my one-word-motto as some distant desire I once had. I’ve retreated, and where earlier I was talking to strangers about God, now I don’t want to answer the phone. What happened to brave?
Near the beginning of the year, I read through the book of Acts, and the disciples were a huge inspiration for me. They seemed to have no end of bravery, boldness, and courage. It says “and daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” Acts 5:42. They faced trials, opposition, threats of punishment and death, and yet they kept going with zeal. My favourite description of their work is in Acts 17, where the rulers of the city they were in accused them of turning the world upside down. They were brave. But what was it particularly that gave them courage and made them unstoppable in the face of fear?
I had that question back in February, and without looking for it, I’ve just noticed an answer. (That has to be God. :) I recently read The Robe by Lloyd Douglas, and began listening to David Platt’s Threads series (thanks to this conversation!), and suddenly Jesus’ time here on earth acquired an impacting depth.
His sinless life gives us the assurance we can have victory over sin, relying on the same source of strength as He did. His death paid the penalty for our sins meaning we can be forgiven, and stand before God in Christ’s strength and righteousness. But here’s the exciting part: what does Jesus’ resurrection give us?
Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” 2 Timothy 1:10 says He abolished death.*
Jesus resurrection is tangible proof of the infinite power of God. He conquered death, the greatest thing the devil had to hurl at Him. His resurrection proves that He is Lord: all-powerful, undeniably conqueror, and absolutely victorious.
The disciples ran for their lives when Jesus was arrested. Simon Peter said he never knew Jesus. They were ashamed, afraid, weak. But after Christ came back from the dead, and they saw Him and believed, they turned into the passionate, unstoppable army we see in Acts. Because, they realised that Jesus’ overcoming death meant they had nothing to lose, nothing to be afraid of. Nothing was more powerful than fear and death, and Jesus had conquered that completely. Working for Him, they could be bold, brave, daring, outspoken, because they knew Jesus had the power to keep them where He had placed them.
As a character in The Robe explains about the disciples’ work and why it was difficult to eradicate them: “It is a strange movement, sir. It has only one weapon; its belief that there is no death. Cornelius Capito is not equipped to crush something that refuses to die when it is killed.”
And Jesus still has all power today. Death hasn’t made any advances on Him in the last couple of thousand years. We have exactly the same assurance the disciple of the New Testament had. We can be bold and brave for Christ, because He is conqueror and we have absolutely nothing to be afraid of.
It feels like I’ve come a full circle. I began by trying to be brave myself. I realised it takes a lot of effort, and almost forgot about my resolution in the mid-and-later-year busyness. Now God has brought to my attention that true bravery is found in faith in Him, resting in the knowledge that He has conquered my greatest fears, and in Him I have nothing to lose.
“There’s more than one kind of courage, my child… and the most potent of all is the reckless bravery of people who have nothing to lose.” The Robe, page 405
*That’s only two of the verses I found in my study of this. If you want more references, contact me and I’ll be happy to pass them on. :)
What are your thoughts on bravery? Why do you think the disciples were so bold and courageous?
What have you been thinking/studying/pondering recently?