coward2Many times over the years I have read and shared the beautiful word picture of Revelation 21:1-7—the New Jerusalem—God wiping away the tears of the redeemed—the Alpha and the Omega—the glorious lot of the “over-comers.”

I’d stopped reading at the end of verse 7. Verse 8 deals with those who aren’t saved. Surely that doesn’t mean me—or does it?

It took a pastor’s sermon recently, telling how many who have been drawn to Christ, to Bible study and Sabbath observance, have not withstood the disapproval and criticism of family and friends. “Why be different?” “Why worship on Saturday instead of Sunday?” “If you go to church on Saturday, this marriage is over!” “Kiss your job goodbye if you want Saturday off.”

Most of those who came to Christ and then left had one thing in common: they lacked the courage to stand for their convictions—to put God first. The pastor referred us to Revelation 21:8, “But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murders and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”

Top of the list: “Cowardly.” Tail of the list: “all liars.”

All my life I have been cowardly. I have appeased myself that it is better to be a peacemaker (Matthew 5:9)—but not like Gandhi or others who have advocated for peaceful means of negotiation. I chose “peacemaker” as in retreating from conflict, avoiding issues, giving in to the prevailing mindsets. I lie to myself by rationalizing that “Peace is better; God will take care of this.”

I Didn’t Want to Make Waves

Was God giving me something to do or say, and I said, “No” because I didn’t want to make waves? What a coward!

All over the world, people’s lives are threatened or lost for taking their stand for Jesus. Thousands languish in prisons or labor camps. Many are abused, abandoned or killed by their families—the very ones supposed to love and protect them—people driven by fear or refusing to act with courage on their neighbor or loved one’s behalf.

A married and pregnant Sudanese woman recently made world news because she was given a death sentence for refusing to recant her Christian faith. It took the work of many nations and organizations to convince Sudan’s high court to eventually release her.

“He who is not with Me is against Me;” said Christ, “and he who does not gather with Me scatters,” (Matthew 12:30).

In my small corner of the world, may Jesus Christ give me the strength and words to speak for Him; first of all in my family, and then to my neighbors and the strangers He sends across my path. I want to be an “over-comer” (Revelation 21:7) and encourage others to overcome the myriad distractions that take the mind and thoughts away from God.