June 12th 2007 (4) comments so far
Last week I found myself waiting at Great Clips to have my usual monthly haircut. While waiting I grabbed the May 7th edition of Forbes Magazine where I found an article that attracted my attention because at the bottom of the page I saw the name of a former Mexican president, Ernesto Zedillo, who shares the Current Events column of the magazine. The article “Needed: Leaders of Courage“ written by British historian Paul Johnson points out that contrary to traditional approaches to history that stress “the importance of forces and classes,” individuals in the recent past such as Marshal Tito, Margaret Thatcher, Presidents Nixon and Reagan, John Paul II and others have demonstrated “how important outstanding individuals are, for good and evil” when they go against prevailing trends and wisdom and perform acts of courage that have changed history. Johnson implies that such individuals are in short supply today.
On a similar venue, yet with a much more optimistic approach, TIME Magazine has been on the search for the world’s 100 most influential people of the year. As part of their selection process, previous honorees offer their nominations, including Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert host of the Emmy-nominated show The Colbert Report. In the May 7th edition of TIME, Colbert’s nomination is Jesus Christ. Three reasons: 1) short but effective rÃ©sumÃ©”””˜God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God’; 2) he’s been on a lot of TIME covers; 3) he could be coming back any day now, and you do not want to be the guy who left him off the list.” Of course, the comedian, who also serves as a Sunday school teacher in the RCC, hesitates between Jesus and Steve Jobs because he says “I want a free iPhone.”
These two short readings I stumbled across last week got me thinking about how difficult it is sometimes for many of us to grasp the true nature of courage as well as the absolute relevance of the person of Jesus Christ in our daily experience, particularly for those of us who profess to have faith in His name.
From my recent meditation on the Scriptures, I have seen clearer than ever before that a courageous Christian, a Christian that “goes against prevailing trends and wisdom”, is one who recognizes his sinfulness and imperfection, as well as the absolute necessity of faith in Jesus Christ as his Savior every single day of his life, i.e., as his Savior in the “eternal present.” I would describe this as an act of courage because the exercise of faith demands a humble and contrite spirit (what can be less attractive than that today!) that acknowledges his inability to live a righteous life that pleases and glorifies God apart from the work of Jesus and his power in us. If that is not courageously counter cultural (particularly in Christian culture) then I don’t know what is.
It takes courage to recognize that we are sinners that need a Savior today, especially for Christians. In fact, I once heard R.C. Sproul affirm that he has never heard anybody that has admitted to live a perfect life from the beginning, and yet the only ones that he has ever met that have proclaimed they have attained perfection have always been professing Christians. We need Christ as our Savior today if we want to be holy. If Christ is to be our Lord today he must first be our Savior. My contention is that the losing battle many Christians have with sin and temptation in their daily experience is rooted in the fact that they acknowledge Christ as their personal Savior only in the past (at the moment of conversion), or in the past and in the distant future (at the time of the final resurrection) but never in the present. Few think of Christ as their Savior for the troubles and temptations of today. We go about thinking, “God has done so much for me in the past and He has given me the promise of eternal life in the future, that today it is my turn. It is my responsibility to do anything in my power to live a life that glorifies God.”
A courageous Christian on the other hand humbles himself every day recognizing his utter inability to please God and his absolute dependence on God’s grace and mercy through the Spirit of Christ to live a holy life. Jesus Christ is not to be the person of the year for the Christian. He must be the person of the day (in fact of every single moment). A courageous Christian proclaims with the inspired authors:
“May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Heb 13:20-21 (NIV). (see also Ps. 30.10, 31.1-5, 38.21-22, 42.5, 70.1-6, Is. 12.2, Mt. 6.13, Joh. 15.5-6, Phi. 2.13, 1 Th. 3.12, 5.23-24, and many, many, many others)
I suggest therefore Christians should adopt Martin Luther’s Morning Prayer (excluding the Angels part) as a model for daily dependence on Christ for a Christian (no wonder the name) life that is truly courageous:
My Heavenly Father, I thank You, through Jesus Christ, Your beloved Son, that You kept me safe from all evil and danger last night. Save me, I pray, today as well, from every evil and sin, so that all I do and the way that I live will please you. I put myself in your care, body and soul and all that I have. Let Your holy Angels be with me, so that the evil enemy will not gain power over me. Amen.
Published by: Carlos Astorga
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