Deep Thought – A bi-monthly feature in ReCharge
Courage to Make a Difference
During 2022 Tasmanian Baptists are engaging with the concept of (EN)COURAGE,
as we REENGAGE, REIMAINGE and REALIGN with the Gospel in our own communities.
In this Deep Thought reflection, Mark Wilson has some thoughts to inspire you to take hold of that courage.
As Christians, we are called to be different. Not only in who we are, but in the difference we make. It’s a daunting challenge!
Ephesians 5:8-9 “For once you (followers of Christ) were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true”
Be the Change
As followers of Christ, we are different by nature to make a different impact.
When we embrace the same values, lifestyles, practices, and priorities as the world around us, we have nothing to say of any consequence to that world. We may see the brokenness, the pain, the anxiety, and the shame, but when we are both in the world and like the world, we can offer very little to bring change.
The Gospel fundamentally calls us to be the change. Grace beckons us to be conduits of transformation. The Kingdom of God requires us to be different. It’s a requirement that is not for the faint-hearted.
Our spouse needs us to be different. Our children need it. And our workplaces need it too. By God’s grace, change comes first to us … and then through us.
So, different how? In what we watch, how we parent, in our language, in our priorities, in how we treat others, how we lead. Different in love, in hope and in compassion. In forgiveness, in peace-making, in spending, in web-surfing and in just about every way we can imagine.
Learning from the Martyrs
Richard Rohr, in his book Everything Belongs, writes:
“Underneath the language of orthodoxy and obedience (is) fear of a God who has not been experienced. Teaching and community without the necessary experience of the Holy One, often creates dry, ineffectual, and disappointing Christianity.”
Pre-Constantine, with Emperors like Nero (54-68 AD), Decius (249-251 AD), and Diocletian (284-305 AD) countless followers of Jesus were martyred for their faith, often in brutal and unspeakable ways. Perpetrators and executioners conceived shocking acts of violence, as Christian women and men bravely stood firm for Christ.
In the fourth and fifth Centuries, various church leaders and theologians reflected on the blood-soaked era of the martyrs. What did they learn? How might those deaths inspire us to live differently; to live better?
They generally concluded that those faithful martyrs could teach us at least three things.
- Firstly, endurance built their faith and character.
- Secondly, the faith of the martyrs ensured their eternal salvation.
- But thirdly, and very importantly, the church fathers wrote about the martyrs receiving the gift of parresia, a Greek word meaning boldness or courage.
This courage was not the product of parental training. Nor did it come from natural grit and determination. Rather, parresia was a gift (a grace) from God; special courage that was needed for the moment to remain faithful, and to fulfill the will and plan of God.
The martyrs – thousands of Christian sisters and brothers whose names I do not know, but who are deeply known by the Father – encourage me to think that their extraordinary boldness and courage came as a gift from God, just in time. It was courage to make a difference in the world around them.
Giving God Glory
Whatever challenges you are facing, pray that Christ would grant you this same grace, this same courage. Not that you might emerge as a powerful person, but that God might receive glory and honour through you.
Few of us are called to martyrdom, but many of us will be called to stand boldly for the King and His Kingdom, in our marriages, workplaces, schools and communities.
In this, we will be truly different!
Rev. Mark Wilson is the National Ministries Director for Australian Baptist Ministries.
More Deep Thought
Just Mercy by Michael Henderson
On Becoming Wise Elders by Mike Frost
June/July ReCharge 2022
Around the Churches: June/July 2022, North, Northwest and South
Ministry Profile: Matt Holloway, Westbury
Your Church CAN: Caring for Foster Carers
Tas Baptists Grow: Hobart Vision Church
Youth: Hobart Baptist Church
From the Mission Director: Take Courage in Dark Times
Church Profile: Gateway Baptist