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Summary: Why would John repeatedly confront Herod about his sin? Why not just leave well enough alone?

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OPEN: The philosophy final at U.C.L.A had many blank pages for the answer to one question:

“What is courage?”

Most of the students wrote frantically, giving examples, expounding on theories. But one of the classmates turned in his essay with just two words on it to describe what courage was. He wrote: THIS IS.

And he received an A.

APPLY: What is courage?

With all due respect to that student from UCLA… courage is far more than a clever response on a college exam. That student “took a chance”; he took a risk. He gambled that his cute answer would get him the teacher’s attention and approval. And he was right.

But true courage goes far deeper than merely taking a chance that we can get by on witty statements and creative behavior.

The “Saturday” magazine had a quote once that said: “Courage does not consist in feeling no fear, but in conquering fear. He is the hero who seeing the lions on either side goes straight on, because there his duty lies.”

Plutarch said that:

"Courage consists not in hazarding without fear, but being resolutely minded in a just cause."

And one poet wrote

“Courage is an independent spark from heaven’s bright throne

By which the soul stands raised, triumphant, high, alone.” George Farquhar

In other words: true courage is the result of faith.

It’s a faith in a just cause, or in an ideal, or in the Will of God.

But this kind of faith - a faith that is the basis of true courage - is often the type of faith that requires us to stand… alone.

Throughout the Bible we’re told stories of people who did just that.

ILLUS: One poet noted

“Noah built the ark and voyaged alone. His neighbors laughed at his strangeness and perished in style.

Abraham wandered and worshipped alone. Sodomites smiled at the simple shepherd, followed the fashion, and fed the flames.

Daniel dined and prayed alone.

Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone.

Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone.

Jesus loved and died alone."

Why did their faith require them to go it alone?

Because the general rule of most people in this world is that they’d rather not. Most folks would rather not stand alone. In fact, they’d just as soon “leave well enough… alone”

They’d rather not rock the boat.

They’d rather not be seen as judgmental.

They’d rather just “live and let live.”

But belonging to Christ sometimes requires us to go against the grain.

It sometimes calls us to call sin, sin.

It sometimes requires us to stand up for God’s truth even when others tell us to sit down and shut up.

ILLUS: A year ago Brittany McComb was the valedictorian at Henderson, Nevada Foothill H.S.

She graduated with a 4.7 GPA. and thus, she earned the right to address the other graduates. So, she wrote up her speech and then gave a copy to the school administrators. Because she was a Christian, it contained some Biblical references and even mentioned (one time) the name “Christ.”

The school administrators censored some of the Biblical references. And they also censored the single reference to Christ. Then the school officials handed the speech over to the ACLU for approval and for more censoring. After getting the OK from the ACLU, Brittany’s speech (minus the censored references to the Bible and Christ) was approved. Brittany was warned that if she deviated from the ACLU approved language, her mike would be cut off.

Then came the moment for the big decision. She would not bow down, she decided. She would go with her original version. She stepped to the mike and began her speech. But just before she could utter the name “Christ,” her mike went dead. School officials silenced her. The crowd of 400 jeered for several minutes, angry at the action of the school officials.

Something similar happened at the Lewis-Palmer High School in Denver, where another valedictorian, Erica Corder, also talked about her faith… and she was escorted to the assistant principal’s office following the ceremony and told that she could not be given her diploma because of her speech. The principal, Mark Brewer, then required that she not only apologize, but have a specific statement in an email which he sent to the entire high school community -- stating that if she had asked for permission, she would not have received it. Only after making those steps of apology was she permitted to receive her diploma.

Now… you might say: That’s not right!

And it’s not right.

But as one man once said: “If you want to follow Jesus, you had better look good on wood.”

Or as Adrian Rogers once said:

“Faith is not believing God in spite of the evidence.

Faith is obeying God in spite of the consequences.”

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Philip Lairson

commented on Mar 10, 2011

Wonderful message that ministered to me, and I will use some of the ideas to minister to others on a sermon titled, "Convition." Thanks!

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