Courage & Conviction
One day in 1844, former slave and abolitionist Sojourner Truth happened to be the only black woman at a tent revival. When a mob of young troublemakers disrupted the meeting and appeared to be turning violent, Sojourner joined everyone else in hiding in fear for her safety. But then she had a moment of conviction: “Shall I run away and hide from the devil? Me, a servant of the living God? Have I not faith enough to go out and quell that mob?”
Compelled by faith and her identity in Christ, she left her hiding place and walked toward the crowd of young men, singing a hymn about Jesus’ resurrection. Club-wielding rioters surrounded her, but instead of attacking her, they asked her to sing some more, to talk with them, and to pray with them. Faith won out over fear!
As Sojourner did that day, Jesus encountered angry crowds and intimidating opponents throughout his ministry. The exchange he has with the chief priests and elders in today’s Gospel is no exception. But here, as in so many other instances, he is filled with courageous conviction. He knows that his authority comes from God—because he is God—and this confidence carries over into his encounters with his opponents.
By contrast, Mark tells us that the religious leaders “feared the crowd” (Mark 11:32). Although they no doubt possessed knowledge of the Scriptures and the Law, they chose to avoid the risks inherent in open dialogue. While it may sometimes be a mark of humility to stay out of a conflict, it is also a mark of courage to answer respectfully when we are posed a challenging question—something these leaders failed to do.
The most important thing is that we open ourselves to God’s guidance about how to act. It’s natural to be afraid in challenging situations. But Jesus’ example—and Sojourner’s—can give us hope. If you believe that God is calling you to take on some courageous act, it’s worth the risk and the effort. Who knows how many lives will be changed because you heard God and tried to obey him?
“Lord, give me the courage to respond to your promptings today. Help me to walk in your ways without fear.”
Daily Reflection from The Word Among Us (www.wau.org)