Have you ever seen the video of the Chinese man standing in front of the line of tanks? If not, you need to look up one of the most iconic videos of all time. A lone man, dressed in black pants and a white shirt, stands in the middle of the road as over a dozen tanks roll toward his crushable body, but the man doesn’t move. The armored vehicles rumble within feet of his slender frame, but the man doesn’t move. When the lead tank driver tries to go around the man, the man moves to stay in front of the tank, where he, again, doesn’t move. If you had to pick a word to caption that video, you might choose courage.
Just as that video shows, courage is an individual choice. While we certainly can encourage one another, no one can be courageous for you. Your dad can’t be courageous for you. Your pastor can’t either. Sooner or later in life, something scary is going to come marching (or rolling) toward you, forcing you to make an alarming choice. Will you run? Will you compromise? Or will you stand firm?
In speaking of life in this war-torn world where people’s love for God would grow cold, Jesus taught, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:12,13). Notice the “line of tanks” coming toward you—increased wickedness and an unloving majority. And notice the singular subject—“the one” who stands firm.
I have never lived through a war, but I have to imagine that the temptation to not stand firm is constant. Steal from your neighbor if you’re hungry. Ignore your suffering countryman and think only of yourself. Lie to whomever you have to just to get an extra piece of bread. Doubt the love of God. Believe that nothing matters anymore. Give up on a God who claims he has plans for our future.
Let us pray that every believer living through a war would stand firm. How? By putting on the armor of God. As you read Paul’s famous words below, think of the people who literally see tanks in their streets. Think of the refugees fleeing for their lives. Think of the average citizen who needs the courage to stand firm, to fix their eyes on Jesus, and to believe that the God who loved us enough to send his Son must love us now, even when the world is falling apart.
Let us read and pray: “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:11-18).