By Mark Walz
The Bible speaks a great deal about courage. For this is the heart of faithfulness in principles and in relationships. And it makes sense; when I consider that the attribute needed most when either holding onto belief or defending a loved one it is courage that comes to mind. One of my earliest memory verses comes from Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and be not dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” Fear is the enemy of courage.
Last week I watched my son play baseball in fear. When his turn came to bat, I remember thinking how I hoped he would take some wild and passionate swings at the ball. I think part of it stems from the regret I have from being too afraid as a kid to swing myself. Did you know that was a thing? To be afraid to swing? Well it is, I assure you. No one likes striking out or making a fool of themselves — no one likes to fail. And if I could avoid striking out and instead finding a way to get on base, I was all for that. A walk or even getting hit by pitch seemed like a better way than striking out. So here I was watching my own son seemingly doing the same thing for the same reason. In the car after the game I had a talk with him; I told him that I always regretted not taking my swing and I did not want that for him. I told him that I would rather he take wild, aggressive swings and end up striking out than watch him stand there in fear of looking foolish. The only fool, I told him, was the one afraid to swing. “Take your swing, dude!” I said.
Good Friday is a sobering reminder of our own fear of looking foolish. The Bible tells us that the disciples were afraid, and this is why they fled. Peter lacked courage, and this is why he denied even knowing his Lord. They all lacked courage when the time came to stand with their Lord. We are just like them. We, like the disciples, have and sometimes still run out of fear and lack of courage. Good Friday is a reminder of our own participation in the death of Christ. You and I were not there, but the truth is, if we were we would have most likely cowardly shrunk away.
Why do we call this day Good Friday? Because though we are participants in the injustice of the wicked expressed in the death of Jesus, we are represented by the courageous one, the righteous one. He has removed the guilt of our cowardice and replaced it with a record of courage and faithfulness — His righteous life has become our righteousness. And He is not only the giver of righteousness but the giver of courage. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7). He has given us courage to live a different way.
By this gift and by His love we overcome fear. We no longer have to live in fear; whether we are afraid of retribution, embarrassment, or even of looking foolish. Instead as Christians, God has given us a spirit of courage and power that enables us to defeat fear. We have this courage at our disposal. Imagine what your relationships and your life would look like if we embraced this powerful courage within us? This is Paul’s charge to Timothy, to “not be ashamed” but to share in the glory of the gospel by not shrinking from suffering nor allow the gift to grow cold (2 Timothy 1).
Let’s each take our swing!