There was a time in our country when one man would beat another man senseless for calling him a coward. There were few accusations that held more condemnation, disdain and disrespect than being labeled as a coward. The dictionary places the following definition on the word coward: A person who lacks courage in facing danger, difficulty, opposition, pain, etc.; a timid or easily intimidated person.
Today, though I know few men (or women) who would take it well if called a coward, the traits of a coward are common and the damage from rampant cowardice is taking a toll on our country, our politics, our culture and the church. We certainly did not start this way. The most hardy and courageous Englishmen, Norsemen and Spaniards braved the cruelty of the North Atlantic in relatively small wooden wind-powered boats to arrive on the shores of our eastern coast. The timid homebodies of these European nations stayed at home. When England sought to subjugate the colonists, they rebelled against the crown. In a bloody war, they repelled, at great cost, those who crossed the sea to first tax and then to rule them. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence were also signing their own death warrants, demonstrating a level of courage that is in short supply today.
The African-American citizens of our nation are the survivors of the first American Holocaust; hearty souls who first endured the horrors of the slave ships, only to then overcome the indignities of being bought like cattle. They survived the plantation fields and have climbed over obstacle after obstacle to gain what should have never been stripped away. Today, they carry in their blood the strength of those who overcame unspeakable adversity.
Immigrants from Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe have shown immense courage in leaving their homelands to travel at great peril to this nation, in hopes of taking part in a great experiment of freedom, democracy, capitalism and achievement. Many shed blood in past wars, and those who survived returned to our shores to establish great business ventures, corporations and industries.
All of this historic courage, and all of this past daring, has resulted in the most prosperous nation the world has ever known, and a nation that has contributed to the world in many transformational ways. It was Americans who invented the light bulb, the cotton gin, the telephone, the television, air travel, the internal combustion engine, the transistor, computers, cell phones and who first stepped onto the moon. Courageous Americans pioneered medical cures and breakthroughs that eradicated diseases. The entire world has profited from our charity and our innovations.
Yet today we are fearful, and cowardice and timidity are common traits in the hearts of men. We have become careful, risk-adverse, and rarely dare to test the boundaries of what we can see. We don’t have the nerve to venture from our luxuries, and with each successive generation we resemble less and less the rebels, explorers, and inventors who came before us.
In many churches, evangelicals often lack the courage to tackle troublesome social justice issues, and those who champion social justice issues often lack the courage to boldly proclaim, “Ye must be born again.” We gravitate to our strengths and lack the nerve to face our weaknesses. We did not have the courage to address wanton no-fault divorce and remarriage within the Body, and have now lost the moral high ground to speak courageously regarding God’s plan for sexuality. Demonstrating immense cowardice, men across our nation have procreated and produced offspring they neither provide nor care for. Unwilling to address their famine of courage, more and more single young men are living with parents and are not working.
All of this is shameful enough, but it is doubly so when the men who claim to follow Christ live in fear and fail to demonstrate courage. It should be clear to the world who identifies as a Christ-follower and who does not. We should look different, behave with honor, show the strength of both compassion and resolve, hold to our word, and risk our faith on quests to serve the poor and to show hope to the lost. Men should never capitulate on the mandates of Scripture, but should be understanding and open to learning.
These are the kinds of men that the Lord has brought to serve here at Youth-Reach. The women who serve here and who are married to these men are also strong, powerful in prayer, and quick to serve. Our board members are men and women of deep character and commitment, dedicated to the Father, their families, and to the mission of Youth-Reach. This is the program in which I often ask you to invest.
We hope to see you on our campus on October 26th for our upcoming Open House. We are grateful for you, and ask that you pray for us as the Holy Spirit leads you to do so.