Monday, April 02, 2007

Courage Under Fire

Matthew 9: “10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were reclining with Jesus and his disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when he heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” “What a coward every man is! and how surely he will find it out if he will just let other people alone and sit down and examine himself. The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner." - Mark Twain, Mark Twain in Eruption I pride myself on being a keen observer of human nature. It has never been hard for me to accept the idea of the radical deprivation of humankind. I see these things deep within me and lash out when I see it displayed in others. The one that frustrates me the most at this time is a general and wide spread infection of cowardice. Not only has our culture become a cess pool of cowards, we have also begun to turn on anyone who even thinks of standing out as bold. The current cowardice starts out as anonymity. I am so tired of listening to talk radio and hearing names like ‘Bob from Boston” or “Bamaboy”. Why should I consider any unsigned e-mail? In the passage above, we have the classic illustration of our common practice of complaint without confrontation. The Pharisees do not go to the Master; they go to the disciples. Sadly, we do the same thing. We air our complaints in safety. We test them as trial balloons and observe what winds will buy them. Sometimes it is an effort to see how risky our stance is and what cost the comments will be. Even worse, we pass much of the information along third hand. Gossip is so pervasive that we have turned it from sin into an art form. Jesus doesn’t play this way. He overhears and confronts. He is a man to man- eyeball-to-eyeball kind of guy. He is strong, and loving. He answers without slander. I wonder what would happen if we committed to this type of practice today? Think of how many pastorates would be built up instead of torn down? How many churches would begin to flow with grace and not criticism? What kind of harmony could be discovered? How much less ammunition would the power of darkness have? I challenge every man reading this today to pray for courage. Find your child or spouse and have that awkward conversation. Look up the offended brother and accept the consequences. Refuse to participate in negative criticism without approaching the source. Ask your fellow critic to pray more and opine less. Try to see the path your opponent walks in and consider his ways. Take the initiative to have a spiritual conversation with a neighbor. Walk up and hug your dad. People want to know where the great men are today? My answer is… they are tucked away in comfort blankets of cowardice. It is time to step out in the light- your nation and church needs you!

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