“Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent council member, who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God, coming and taking courage, went in to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus” (Mark 15:43).
HOW DANGEROUS A JOURNEY ARE WE WILLING TO UNDERTAKE IN ORDER TO GET TO GOD? Do we understand that seeking God requires a heart that is brave as well as true?
True Heart. The faith needed to seek God is a faith that is utterly sincere. The writer of Hebrews speaks of this when he says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith” (Hebrews 10:22). We must not only make a genuine commitment to God, but we must keep that commitment with allegiance and loyalty. If our heart is true, it will pursue God in earnest.
Brave Heart. Spiritual growth, like any other real progress, is frightening. Since there is always loss as well as gain, we have to add courage to our sincerity. Great sacrifices are required; serious risks have to be taken. God has not guaranteed that our passage through this life will be completely safe. Some things will clearly be at risk, and we’re urged to “count the cost” (Luke 14:25–33). If we delay embarking on a serious quest for God until we have hedged all our bets, then we’re not worthy of God. Heading the list of the lost in Revelation 21:8 are the “cowardly,” those who play it safe, afraid to pay the price to walk with God. It takes a brave heart to say such a thing as Paul, “Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). And David, another man of courage, said, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart” (Psalm 27:14).
In the hymn “Amazing Grace” there is a verse which says, “Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; ’twas grace that brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.” Do we take these dangers seriously? Do we understand what’s at stake if we fail to find safety in God? If nothing could go wrong on our journey, neither the true heart nor the brave would be needed. But where there is no real risk, faith is no real virtue.
“Every advance in spiritual life has its corresponding dangers; every step that we rise nearer God increases the depths of the gulf into which we may fall” (Robert H. Benson).