Where does the courage come from to relinquish our ego when we are confronted with the perilous choice to protect our personal safety, security, and pleasure, or die to ourselves in service to God and his glory?
The great test of authentic spirituality confronted Jesus when Pilate said, “Don’t you realize that I have the power either to free you or to crucify you.” (John 19:10)
Jesus passed the test because he was grounded in convictions that were rooted in his love for his heavenly Father, his desire to please his heavenly Father, and his unswerving belief that his heavenly Father’s love for him would bring him safely home, even if it meant denying himself to the point of an agonizing crucifixion.
The Bible is full of compelling stories of faith heroes whose lives were grounded in convictions that could not be swayed, regardless of the peril that was around the corner.
Consider Stephen who bravely stands the test and declares the gospel to the Sanhedrin who painfully crush his body to death with stones. (Acts 7:54)
Esther gathers up her courage and enters into supreme danger to save the Jewish nation from an impending holocaust. (Esther 4:15)
Daniel goes to his knees, praying for God’s wisdom three times a day, in full view of the disdainful bureaucrats who manipulate the king to have Daniel thrown into the lion’s den. (Daniel 6:10)
And there is Moses, standing bravely at the shore of the Red Sea, defying Pharaoh, and shouting out, “Stand still and wait to see what God will do!” (Exodus 14:13)
The Apostle Paul declares his convictions in his final address to the Ephesians.
“I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there. I only know that in every city the Holy Spirit warns me that prison and hardships are facing me. However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given to me.” (Act 19:23-24)
Where do such people come from?
These are people who had encountered God at the deep soul level. Their spiritual convictions were birthed in moments of encounter with the true and living Lord.
And they knew thereafter there was “no turning back.” Their desire to know, love and serve God superseded all else, regardless of what it meant for their personal peace, pleasure or affluence.
In her book, Wisdom from the Daily, Joan Chittester tells the compelling story of a time when a great army invaded a country and left a path of destruction everywhere, reserving their intense wrath for people of faith that they found, particularly the monks.
When the invaders arrived in one of the villages…the leader of the village reported to the commander, “All the monks hearing of your approach, fled to the mountains.”
The commander smiled a broad, cold smile, for he was proud of having a reputation for being a very fearsome person.
But then the leader added, “All, that is, but one.”
The commander became enraged. He marched to the monastery and kicked in the gate. There in the courtyard stood the one remaining monastic.
The commander glowered at the figure. “Do you not know who I am?” the commander demanded. “I am he who can run you through with a sword without batting an eyelash.”
And the monastic fixed the commander with a serene and patient look and said, “And do you know who I am? I am one who can let you run me through with a sword without batting an eyelash.”
And what about us as Corpath members?
Pursuing excellence in business, in life and in spirit as disciples of Jesus means we too must be able to stand for God’s glory and his kingdom “without batting an eyelash,” regardless of the outcome.
We know such a stance is never easy. It may mean the loss of a customer, the rejection of a colleague, the disdain of a relative, the mockery of a neighbour, the alienation of a child. But Jesus has gone before us. He set the pace.
“For the joy set before him, he endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2)
Now it’s our turn.
Blessings for a week grounded in unshakeable convictions.