The Courage to Be a Christian

He washed his hands of the whole affair. He could have listened to his conscience that told him that this Jesus was an innocent man. He could have listened to his wife who told him that she had a dream about this Jesus. But Pilate did not have the necessary courage it takes to be a Christian. He washed his hands of the whole affair and will forever be remembered as the coward who let the Lord of Life be crucified.

The courage to be a Christian. Judas didn't have it either. There was great financial gain for him to give up Christ. There was a position of esteem among the Jewish leaders there for his taking. To stay with Christ would mean to join him in suffering. He didn't have the courage to be a Christian.

Peter seemed to be the greatest coward of them all. He denied Christ three times. But he didn't give up. He picked himself up from his cowardice and accepted all that the following of Jesus demanded. Legend has it that when Peter himself was about to be crucified he protested that he wasn't worthy to die the same way as the Lord and was then crucified upside down. It took a lifetime for Peter to muster up the courage he needed, but he was able to follow Christ.

We begin Holy Week this year with a call to courage. We live in a country where many have lost the courage that is necessary to follow Jesus Christ.

It takes tremendous courage to be the only people in the neighborhood that treasure a moral lifestyle. It takes tremendous courage to be the only parents who are determined to protect their children from that which could destroy them even though other parents let their kids go to that movie, play that game, and close their eyes to their experiments with all that is unhealthy. It takes tremendous courage to be the only one at work who isn't a flirt, who doesn't degrade his or her spouse with the other guys or girls, who doesn't stab co-workers in the back in order to advance, who is willing to take only what an honest days work provides. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to be a senior who refuses to get involved in a relationship that could never be moral, even though friends and neighbors say it is OK.

We are not being called at the present time to accept physical death for the Lord. But we are being called to give witness to Jesus. The word martyr means witness.

It takes a tremendous amount of courage to follow Christ. Yet, standing with him at the cross, giving witness to his presence in our lives, the presence that gives meaning to our existence, giving witness to Jesus is the easiest thing we could ever do. It is easy because it is the natural action of the committed Christian.

We begin this Holy Week at the foot of the Cross, praying for the courage to be Christians.