Thursday, January 27, 2011

Backhanded Bravery

A dare is a dangerous thing, I think we have all had friends that talked big but when it came time to back it up, they were either nowhere to be found or came up with some wild excuse to why they couldn’t back it up.  Maybe our friend wasn’t exactly like that, but they would say things like,
 “And then I told that guy to back off and shut up.”
You may retaliate with a, “You really said that to him?”
 “No, but he knew I was irritated.”

It sure does sound brave; somehow we comfort ourselves in this idea that we are who we are not.  The truth is that we are just as much the coward we always feared we were.  Somehow this idea makes us feel better than we actually are, and therefore lets us off the hook, and keeps us in this dungeon of cowardice and when it comes to our walk with God this mindset fuels our lack of faith, trust, & reliance on God.  When we allow ourselves to think in this manner, we also tend to get in this high and mighty mode because we never slipped up and never would like that person did, even though we have never faced the trials they have.

I have always found myself to be a guy who often said the right thing, but when faced with the consequences or results wondered to myself if I really had the guts to go through with it.  I have sat down and thought through the questions that arise in matters of faith, trusting God, relying on Him and Him alone for my answers in the tough matters.  I speak a really good game, I mean it, I can tell you of the one time that I trusted God and He came through.  What I may not tell you is that that situation was one of a very few times I had the guts to go through with what God was leading me in.

It is a sad condition…one that I hope, and believe that I am getting healing from.

This backhanded bravery is a sabotage to our faith.  It goes against the historical figures we see in the Bible that have become the great legends of faith.  Many call the chapter of Hebrews chapter eleven the “Hall of Faith” and the members that line the pages of that chapter have truly amazing stories.  The difference between those people and me, to this point, is that no matter how afraid or timid they were, when God called them they didn’t have a mere backhand bravery embolden them and then wane when the time came to stand.  They had a true bravery that was emboldened by the Spirit of God because they accepted the revelation that God gave them about His plan for them and those around them.  

I read recently in the book of John chapter eleven, probably the second most criticized disciple (after Judas) is a normal guy named Thomas (Doubting Thomas) and he is a part of this situation where Christ is going to head back into a part of the country that hates Him, to the point of wanting to kill Him.  Jesus tells the disciples that He is going to this area to see His friend Lazarus (great account to read on your own, by the way) and He wants them all to go.  Thomas’ response struck me, “Let us all go, that we may die with Him.”  When I first saw it, I saw the bravery, an “I will go and die with Christ!” type of "hurrah" that rally’s the troops.  Then I remembered, Thomas was like me, he wanted to feel the holes in Christ’s hands or He wouldn’t believe.

This seems more like a backhanded bravery.

Many of us know the story of Peter, actually a couple of times Peter showed his backhanded bravery.  Though, Peter gets my admiration for trying, at least in the case of stepping out of the boat to walk on the water.  Then he sank, but why?  Because He took his eyes off the source, and isn’t that when we lose our true bravery, when we see it by our own standards, ability, and rationale?  Peter also denied Christ when Christ was being tried, three times, even though he told Christ he would never deny Him.  Peter was cured of His backhanded bravery and given a great bravery that served him well as he faced many trials including martyrdom. 

We see throughout the Scripture that this has been an epidemic for thousands of years.  There are those in the “Hall of Faith” and those who were more of the different sort of “Hall.”  The point is that we see the extreme differences in the success of those who had true, God given bravery and those who had a backhand bravery.  It is vitally important that we look to ourselves and search out our hearts (and I mean it, take a look at yourself) and see if we are full of the bravery we see that lines the pages in Hebrews eleven, or do we look a lot like our backhanded brave friend who talked a big game but never seemed to back it up.

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