Courage is a wonderful trait. Courage is a virtue that inspires all of us to dream. To dream of what could be a reality in the world, and what could be a reality in our lives. There are fleeting moments when we see courage put on display in our own lives, but most often we recognize it in the lives of others. This past weekend I was privileged to witness such a display of courage. I witnessed people from all walks of life come together to serve with excellence and to inspire others to join a new iteration of an ancient institution. What motivates two people who are enjoying the prime of their lives, raising their family, and climbing the ladder of professional success to take a risk? For my friends, Ben and Tamara, it is a desire to plant a church. The Church is an institution that has lost its privileged position in our culture. But Ben and Tamara are passionate about what the Church can become when it is filled with fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. That is why they are planting a church. It is the same desire that motivates my friends Greg and Jessica to also plant a church, my friend Ally to call out injustice, and my friend Teneil to go to the nation of Malawi, Africa, and not come home. All kinds of different people demonstrating courage for a cause greater than themselves.
Sometimes I think it is easy to see others doing amazing things and project upon them some sort of super human status. But I can attest that all of us these folks who are doing extraordinary things are really quite ordinary. I grew up with Tamara in Northeast, Arkansas. We were both part of a small Pentecostal denomination. Ben likes Star Wars and superheroes. Jessica didn’t become a Christian until after high school. Greg works hard to provide for his family until they get the church established. Ally was willing to have an honest conversation with me about racial inequality. Now multiple thousands of people follow Ally as she dispenses wisdom and truth. And Teneil. Well Teneil may indeed be extraordinary. Teneil serves everyone who shows up at her front door, she takes sick folks to the hospital, provides love to her adopted children, and with her own hands and skills, she builds houses and schools for her community in Malawi.
Ben and Tamara call their church plant Revelation. For those of us that grew up in church culture, this book of the bible often conjured images of fear and dread. But John’s apocalyptic vision is simply an “unveiling” of Jesus. Jesus is seen in majesty and power in Revelation. A vision of Christ that is unique to this particular book of the bible. Ben and Tamara understand that this is what the Church is intended to be, an authentic revealing of Jesus to the world.
As we gathered with a small group of Jesus followers at a minor league ball park, Pastor Ben beautifully articulated his vision to reach the community to the eighty folks who showed up to break bread and meet new friends. There was genuine joy on display, much laughter, and at least one moment of surprise, when a few of us saw a mouse run across the floor! But what would a church be without an official church mouse? We were united. What united us was a belief in what the Church could become. We believe in our friends and their vison, and we trust Jesus with the results. For all of my friends I’ve mentioned here, and countless many more, who daily display courage in their service to God and humanity, there will be moments of challenge and adversity ahead. As there is for all us. But I think what my friends understand is that the rewards of courage far outweigh any of the difficulties faced along the way. A lesson all of us would do well to learn.