While Christianity is the world’s largest religion, believers around the world continue to suffer for their faith. In certain parts of the world, being a believer can be extremely dangerous, particularly in countries in many places in Africa, Southern Asia and the Middle East where Christianity isn’t the dominant religion. Believers are victims of character assassination, torture and discrimination all for their faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. A report found that Christians are discriminated against in 130 countries and persecution is only getting worse. This persecution isn’t always clear or overt–it can manifest in the way of harsh discrimination when it comes to job seeking, housing and even education. In a world where it is a capital crime to communicate the Gospel or declare that you are a Christian in certain countries, it is becoming more important that we model this level of courage in our lives in order to defend our faith. We also live at a time when America is growing more hostile toward public prayer and traditional and conservative religious viewpoints, values that express our faith. It’s clear that defending our faith is important now more than ever. Here are four reasons Christians must be more courageous in the world today.
God Commands Us to Be Courageous: When we know we are protected by God, we can conquer all fears and live a life of courage. God commands us to do this. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells us “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you." Through Scripture, we discover the courage that God wants us to have. While courage is a desirable quality and to live a life of courage is particularly empowering, being courageous when it comes to your faith is a lot easier said than done. Why? For two reasons. Courage requires you to be willing to face fear and uncertainty and many of us don’t really know what courage means. Remember, courage is not the absence of fear; it is acting in spite of the fear. Nobody knows this better than Christians who defend their faith in countries where Christianity isn’t the dominant religion and are persecuted for their beliefs. These people know fear, but move forward anyway. They don’t allow their fear to paralyze them. They confront fear, pain, perceived danger, uncertainty and intimidation head on because they know they are called to do this. Understand that with God’s protection and guidance, we have nothing to fear and can conquer anything.
Courage Reflects Our Trust in God: When we express courage, we reflect how deeply rooted we are in Christ and how deeply we trust God when it comes to facing all circumstances. Philippians 1:28 says “without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign from them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved – and that by God.” Don’t let the opposition, or fear of the opposition keep you from expressing who you are, or where you are in your relationship with Christ. When we demonstrate courage in our personal lives by sharing our faith with others, it reflects our commitment to God and our commitment to sharing the Gospel with others, no matter the repercussions.
Courage Represents That We Are Rooted in Christ: When we understand that experiencing God in our life isn’t just about our personal relationship with Christ, but also our ability to share Christ with others, courage will become a more natural part of our faith equation. Let’s take our heroes and others we identify in our society as courageous for example. These people have mastered their fear and know that courage is trivial compared to living a life in tune with Christ. As Christians, courage is a vital expression of faith. Yes, this comes with risks. People will challenge your faith, taunt you for your faith, laugh at you for your faith, and even persecute you for your faith. But if you truly live a life in unity with Christ, those things become trivial.
Our Values Are On the Line: When we become born again and take up our crosses to follow Christ, we recognize that we may be crucified by those who don’t agree with our faith or our values. We live during a time where Christian values, particularly traditional values such as the value of life is being challenged publically and politically. Abstinence is being scrutinized by the media, among others. Many will be silent out of fear from the opposition. Fortunately, there are courageous Christians who are willing to risk their lives and compromise their livelihoods to defend their values because of what they believe in. These courageous Christians will stop at nothing to keep others from damaging themselves and others.
Matthew 16:24-26 tells us “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” With the ongoing threat of persecution and the challenge of Christian values right now, it is important that we take up our crosses and follow Jesus, and demonstrate courage on our journey to bring others to the cross. Our world depends on it.