SYNC in story form
Version 6: Courage to Die
Note: There will eventually be seven versions of this story, one for each SYNC season. Each version comes at the story from a slightly different angle. This is the “Courage Season” version.
God, the Real God, creates a beautiful world with life everywhere. The first humans have absolutely nothing to be afraid of, except God’s dire warning: “Don’t eat from that one poisonous tree.”
An enemy of God cons them into thinking that courage means doing what looks right to you regardless of what God said, and they eat the fruit. They cross the thin line between courage and foolhardiness, which means trusting the wrong person or the wrong idea and paying the price. Their beautiful world becomes a scary world—corrupt, violent, and deadly.
So starting with Abraham, God launches his own plan to show what real courage is—trusting God and doing what he says even when it does not look right or feel safe to you. At God’s command, Abraham leaves the security of his homeland. He emigrates to the unfamiliar land God promises will become the homeland of a whole nation that will descend from him. He even has the courage to sacrifice his own son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah, but at the last second God provides a ram to sacrifice instead.
Like Abraham, his descendants show amazing courage. Moses has the courage to demand that the Pharaoh of Egypt release Abraham’s descendants from their slavery. David has the courage to face the giant Goliath with no armor, only a sling and five stones. Elijah has the courage to challenge 450 prophets of the false god Baal to a duel of fire on Mount Carmel. Moses, David, and Elijah all win. Their trust in God proves to be courage and not foolhardiness.
Centuries later, Jesus takes courage to a whole new level. He declares that God’s reign on earth is beginning, and he calls his whole nation to “follow him” even though he knows this will sound like he is starting a revolutionary movement. He gets arrested, but the trial does not intimidate him. He gets abandoned by all his followers, but he continues unafraid. He gets tortured but he still forgives.
When he is executed on a cross, it looks for all the world like his “courage” was foolhardy. He is brave but his cause is lost. End of story.
But wait. On the third day, God the Father brings Jesus out of the grave! He proves that he rewards those who have the courage to stick to the mission he gives them.
When his followers see Jesus alive again, they are stunned. A few days after Jesus goes up into heaven, he sends his Holy Spirit down into them transforming them from cowards to courageous messengers. They will risk anything now to spread the word of his resurrection and his forgiveness. They go to jail over and over. Some of them get executed. But the group refuses to back down.
Their courage is powerfully attractive, and their movement keeps growing. It is still growing today, illegally in many parts of the world. And it will keep growing until the set day when the risen Jesus comes back in person to show everybody, including those of us right here, that his messengers were telling the truth all along.
And that's why we have the courage to live the way we live and tell this story everywhere. As Abraham’s heirs and Jesus’ messengers, we trust God as we carry out our mission. That's our story. What else would you like to know about it before you would say, “I'm in”?
If you have been missing out on this courage story and you think you might want to get in on it, the door is open, but be careful. If you say, “I'm in. I’m ready to pick up the cross Jesus has for me,” you are saying these things:
Yes, God can be trusted 100% of the time like Abraham trusted him, whether we have obvious victory like Moses, David, and Elijah or whether we die like Jesus.
Yes, God's whole plan revolves around the courage of Jesus, who calls us to trust him as sacrificially as he trusted God, his Father.
Yes, I want Jesus to put his Spirit into me so that his courage overpowers my fears and I can honorably take my place in the battle alongside all the other descendants of Abraham.
Yes, I am taking my first step of courage—forgiving everybody for everything like Jesus has forgiven me, and trusting God to work out the implications of that.
Yes, I will trust Jesus and his Spirit for the courage I may need later if people reject me for pointing to Jesus as the ultimate victim and ultimate hero.
If you say “yes” to these things, Jesus moves into your life and you become part of the Courage Tribe that started with Abraham. That is what the rest of your life will be about—finding out what Jesus meant when he said, “Trust me! Follow me!” You won't get to focus on protecting yourself and your own little kingdom any more, but you will live more courageously and honorably than you ever could have on your own, and you will have a peace you did not imagine was possible.