Churches need to demonstrate spiritual courage and strength. As hostility toward the Christian faith grows, believers can feel like they have no control over their lives. They can be weighed down by fear, doubt, and powerlessness. Paul knew that prayer, personal spiritual health, and the power of God’s Spirit were important for building spiritual courage and resilience.
But how can churches help people have more spiritual courage and strength? Paul displayed amazing spiritual strength and resilience while imprisoned in Rome for the gospel.
It is my own eager expectation and hope that [looking toward the future] I will not disgrace myself nor be ashamed in anything, but that with courage and the utmost freedom of speech, even now as always, Christ will be magnified and exalted in my body, whether by life or by death – Philippians 1:20 AMP
Here are a few lessons from the Apostle Paul’s spiritual journey.
Spiritual courage can help us overcome adversity.
Most of the time, our spirituality is affected by what we are going through. We let circumstances determine the course of our lives. When things aren’t going well, it’s hard to stay positive and happy.
Despite his imprisonment in Rome, Paul wanted to praise Jesus (v. 18). Moreover, People he knew wanted to make his time in prison worse, but that did not stop Paul from praising Jesus.
The apostle was not ashamed of the chains he had to wear or the pain he had to endure (v. 20). He was eager to exalt Christ, whether by death or life (v. 20 c).
How can we develop spiritual courage?
Paul knew that prayer, personal spiritual health, and the power of God’s Spirit were important for building spiritual courage and resilience (v. 19). The church has rich resources to build spiritual courage and resilience, and we must draw on those resources.
Spiritual courage is built through Prayer
Firstly, Paul greatly values the church’s prayers for his release. A praying church will be spiritually courageous and joyful. The real vitality of a church lies in its mid-week prayer meetings rather than in how many people show up on Sundays.
Prayer is necessary for developing spiritual courage and resilience. Unfortunately, most people in our churches are not drawn to prayer. To be spiritually brave and robust, our churches must become places where Christians pray for the suffering church.
Spiritual health ensures courage and resilience.
Secondly, Paul stayed happy and spiritually healthy because he knew the church in Philippi would pray for him. Spiritual well-being is a significant indicator of the church’s spiritual health.
However, the church’s spiritual health can only be judged by how its individual members/families are confident, joyful, and eager to spread the word. Individual members will become confident and resilient only if they know that the church’s love, care, and prayers are guaranteed. Strong bonds of fellowship (with Jesus-like love) are needed for spiritual courage and resilience.
Spiritual experiences build courage and resilience.
Thirdly, Paul knew that his deliverance as an answer to the church’s prayer would make the church strong and resilient. When people pray frequently and enjoy spiritual health, God’s power flows in unexpected ways.
People’s lives change, and their prayers are answered. Not surprisingly, the church gets energised. Everyday spiritual experiences and triumphs also help build courage and resilience.
The goal of spiritual courage and resilience
Being spiritually brave is not a goal in and of itself. Resilience is not a way to show off strength and determination. The fundamental purpose of spiritual courage and resilience is to exalt Christ.
Paul endures his imprisonment and the pain caused by others with spiritual courage in the hope of exalting Christ, whether by life or death. Paul is in chains but is not ashamed because he knows this is all for Christ’s glory.
He looks to the future with hope. The word “apokaradokian” ( earnest expectation and hope) is used for watchmen looking into darkness for a beacon of light. It means that someone is excited and craning their neck to see what’s coming next.
The Apostle knew that you need spiritual courage and resilience to rise above things that pull you down. We don’t have to be controlled by our circumstances. We can get through whatever bad things happen to us – hate, animosity, and attacks – if we have spiritual courage.
We must work quickly to build spiritual courage and resilience in our congregations. Working quickly will give our young people strength, hope, and courage during hard times.