Christianity is for the courageous, even if you don’t live in North Korea. Fear, worry, and despair common to the human existence call for the courage that is coincident with faith.
Persecution is real in North Korea. I read about a woman exiled to a life of hard labor because she is a Christian. She escaped to China. She collected food, medicine, and Bibles, and stole her way back into North Korea to meet the needs of fellow believers. Christian courage is evident in Afghanistan, too. There, church leaders changed their national identity cards to show they are Christians. Now the Taliban is hunting them down.
In the Open Doors USA 2022 World Watch report, Afghanistan tops the list for persecution of Christians. But China’s communist party leads the way in using central control to punish Christians. They use facial recognition, internet monitoring, and artificial intelligence to surveil Christians and create social credit scores. Low scores mean limited travel, employment, and education opportunities. Yet the church in China grows. More Chinese are Christians today than are members of the communist party.
Canadian authorities arrested and charged Pastor Artur Pawlowsky with multiple crimes for conducting church services in defiance of COVID restrictions. Californian John MacArthur did the same but wasn’t arrested. Agree or not with their defiance, what they did took the courage of conviction.
It takes courage and sacrifice to be like Christ, to express the new life He has granted to you. Perhaps this is why the Father allows danger and trials to exist in the world. This is the proving ground of faith, the hardening of defenses against that adversary who “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
Courage energizes other qualities that characterize the Christian life. “Courage is not simply one of the virtues,” C.S. Lewis wrote, “but the form of every virtue at the testing point…at the point of highest reality.” Love, honesty, and humility shine the brightest, as does faith, when energized by courage. That’s because they are such a contrast to the hate, deceit, and pride around you. “Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil 2:15).
Regardless of who or what the opponent is, whether oppressive government, neighbor, co-worker, social media gadfly, or even your inner thoughts, God is not surprised and is equipping you for this moment. “Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…in no way alarmed by your opponents…For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 1:27,28, 2:13). Join the fellowship of believers worldwide who live unalarmed, and with courage.