“But the _______, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8
Do you remember what goes in the blank for this verse from Revelation? Probably not. The list includes murder, idolatry, and liars, to name a few. The harshest consequence applied to the worst behaviors. What starts the list? What behavior comes first?
The answer might surprise you. The word that goes in the blank is “cowardly.”
We don’t typically consider cowardice as a trait that belongs in the company with the other things in this list. But if you look at what Revelation asks believers to do, it mostly requires great courage. Which is really consistent with all of Scripture. The heroes of the faith, the stories of Scripture, and the call of the Kingdom all demonstrate courage.
In Revelation, the Ephesian church is asked to be diligent to love. This takes enormous courage. Putting others before ourselves takes courageous faith. The church in Smyrna is asked to endure testing and persecution for their faith. The believers in Pergamos and Thyatira are asked to confront false teaching. In each instance they are asked to adopt a true perspective – that bravely facing difficulty is in their best interest.
One casualty in elevating courage is our natural tendency to value niceness. It takes real courage to be kind. Genuine fortitude to turn the other cheek. But groveling before evil in niceness is not virtuous. Staying silent, remaining uninvolved when we have the power to confront wrong may feel nice, but is not in our long term interest.
It takes real courage to change perspective – to adopt a perspective that is true. To be genuine. To love truly. Which is why God so highly esteems courage. When we adopt this perspective, we establish the foundation to unleash our inner faith superhero, and do amazing things in the Kingdom of God.