Take Courage!

By Mike Kasdorf

Growing up, I was raised by Christian parents, and we were active church participants. I went to Christian schools from 7th grade all the way through college. My life and upbringing checked most of the boxes on the "good Christian" list. I'm grateful for my childhood. But there came a time for me – as it does for all of us, regardless of our rearing – that we must ask ourselves "NOW WHAT?"

My early faith was based on observation of family routines: going to church, reading and memorizing Bible verses and stories, singing hymns, praying, etc. That's what my parents did, so I did it too. As I got into high school, faith became something I had to understand and be able to support, substantiate, and argue on behalf of. In college, it further developed with intellectual rigor, truly becoming something to wrestle with as I considered options for where I was to go next in life.

But through each phase of my faith development, one thing remained constant: I was terrified of talking about Jesus to non-believers.

Tare. Uh. Fied.

This probably sounds ridiculous – inconsistent with what I wrote above – but it was the truth. I could tell you all kinds of facts about God, Jesus, the Bible, Moses, Jonah, Paul, the Israelites, Methuselah. I could intelligently discuss the spread and orthodoxy of early Christianity, and the Councils of Nicea, Constantinople, Chalcedon, and Trent. Protestant reformation? Let's talk. The reformers were my home boys. Calvinism or Arminianism? Such a good debate. You get the picture.

But all my knowledge lacked heart. Lacked soul. Though I knew a lot, I was afraid I'd get something wrong or people would reject me if I started talking about Jesus. So I kept it inside and/or held debate with other believers. And yet, as I continued to read the Word and see how Jesus and his followers lived, I couldn't reconcile the scriptural example with my "inward" faith. This brought me to one of my "Now what" moments.

The Spirit began to work on that rough edge, opening my eyes to what my knowledge was lacking: The why. I had always known that I will be with Jesus for eternity (the ‘what’), but it became real that Jesus changes my right now. Today. Right here. Through the Spirit's power, I began to understand what Romans 12:2 transformation looks and feels like. This became my ‘why.’ Christ didn’t die so that I could have a nice, cozy eternity with him (although that’s part of it), nor so that I could be a nice person—he died to make me alive. And because of that, I've had my eyes opened to the daily opportunities to testify to his love, goodness, and LIFE.

In Acts 23:11, God speaks to Paul following a near-death experience in Jerusalem: "Take courage! Just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, you must also testify in Rome." 

This was a pretty huge call for Paul, to be Christ's witness in the heart of the Roman Empire, maybe even a terrifying one. Yet the Lord's call rings out: Take courage! Similarly, each of us might face any number of "Romes" in our lives: places and relationships where God is opening Gospel-sharing doors.

Take courage! ...you must also testify to that co-worker whose family life is a mess.

Take courage! ...you must also testify to the members of your professional networking group.

Take courage! ...you must also testify to your difficult siblings.

Take courage! ...you must also testify to your neighbors and parents of your kids' teammates.

 

Take courage. YOU must also testify.