Wishing all my readers a Happy 2018!
I can’t remember if I had a word for 2016. #facepalm
I had two in 2017 – simplicity and expectancy. Then I became an expectant mother that year too – God has a sense of humour, as do I!
However, there is a word that just will not leave me alone at the start of 2018. The word that I am thinking about is courageous.
When it comes to courage, I think I am more like the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz.
I want to be courageous in my faith. To share the good news of Jesus with people who have yet to hear it. To stand up for truth in the face of opposition. To write with boldness. To do things that take me out of my comfort zone for the greater good. To pursue what seems impossible knowing that all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26).
It takes courage to do that. As I read the latest newsletter from the charity Open Doors, I am amazed at the courage of Christians across the world who are persecuted for following Jesus Christ.
Did you know that there are between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians imprisoned in camps in North Korea? North Korea has been at the top of the Open Doors World Watch List since 2002, an annual ranking of 50 countries where Christians experience the most persecution. Amazingly, the number of people who have put their trust in Jesus in North Korea is growing with an estimation of 300,000 believers. This is in itself miraculous considering their everyday lives are controlled by the state.
How does that kind of courage play out in my life where I am able to read my Bible and pray without fear of being reported, imprisoned, tortured and killed? What does it look like to be courageous in England? In Devon? In my community? With friends? With family?
That is what I will be thinking about and prayerfully acting on in 2018.
I’m not sure what it will look like yet. I just know I cannot sit on the sidelines when there are people in my own neighbourhood that have not encountered the living God yet.
The thought of telling others conjures feelings of fear and worry.
It is only by God’s power and my obedience to take a step of faith and reach out to others with the good news that Jesus has conquered sin and death and made a way for all to be grafted in. There is hope for the broken. And our world is broken. The headlines alone produce enough evidence of that on a regular basis.
I am working through the Bible in One Year app on my phone and one of the readings today was of Jesus teaching his disciples. He said:
“You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven.” Matthew 5:11-12 (Christian Standard Bible)
As I step out in faith and seek to live more courageously as a Christian, I am encouraged that Jesus knows that it will not be easy. It’s not a surprise to Him, nor should it be to me. In fact, I am blessed if I am insulted or persecuted because of the faith. I may not encounter such hostility – that’s even more of a challenge for me not to stay silent when it comes to the gospel. I have the freedom and the opportunity to, yet am I going to stay silent in case I offend or tread on the eggshells of political correctness?
When it comes to sharing lifesaving, life-transforming news, I hope I have the same attitude as the late theologian, pastor and author R.C. Sproul:
I’ll retire when they pry my cold, dead fingers off of my Bible.
As Jesus continued to teach his disciples, he said:
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (Christian Standard Bible)
There are times I find it easier and more convenient to hide under a basket rather than shine forth knowing that Jesus Christ has brought light to our dark world. I pray that in 2018 I will be courageous and shine forth. For His glory.