Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, has captured the attention and admiration of many watching events unfold in Ukraine. While many might have only known his name, if that, we now have a greater understanding of his actions motivated by his passions.
In the beginnings of the conflict with Russia, I mentally compared his leadership to that of another recent instance of a country under siege. When the Taliban began their campaign to seize power in Afghanistan, their leader abandoned them and left for safety. When Zelensky was offered the opportunity to escape Ukraine, he responded “the fight is here. I need ammunition, not a ride.” This was proving to be a man who has continued to stay in the country fighting for his people and their freedom. It is a battle he is prepared to die waging.
He chose courage when fear could have been the easier choice.
He is BRAVE. He wisely limits identifying structures but continues to broadcast support and encouragement for the people of Ukraine. He acknowledges he is hunted by those who want him dead, yet, he continues to stay and fight.
He is BOLD. He asks for what he needs for the battle. He doesn’t hold back and asks for full support to help his country. Recently, he spoke to our country’s leaders and others showing his willingness to plead for items needed (weapons), humanitarian aid assistance for his people, and for us and others to join the fight by supporting their efforts to defend their freedoms.
I cannot help but wonder if there are causes I would champion and possibly die for.
As a Christian, I know many have died for their beliefs and for following Jesus…in history and continuing today. The disciples faced this reality yet scripture records their boldness when faced with persecution or death. Acts 2-4 records that Peter preached the gospel message so boldly that 3000 souls were saved as he called them to repent, accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, be baptized, and receive the gift of the Spirit. The religious leaders had Peter and John arrested for preaching and converting people. Under questioning, the boldness of these uneducated Apostles evidenced their association with Jesus (Acts 4:13). When ordered to stop preaching the gospel of Jesus, they restated their intent to share the truth of what they had seen and witnessed (Acts 4:18-20). Eventually, most Apostles and many early believers were martyred for proclaiming the gospel of Christ. They were BOLD and BRAVE.
These apostles and early Christians along with many others were persecuted and died terrible deaths for believing in and following the teachings of Jesus. Fox’s Book of Martyrs (by John Fox) details devastating tales of those who were willing to, and did, die for their Christian faith. Today, many still die for their Christian faith in countries where their beliefs are prohibited or illegal. They are BOLD and BRAVE.
Behind the culture, any culture, is an enemy who wants nothing but to cause us to deny our faith, walk away from our beliefs, and compromise our thoughts and actions to avoid discomfort. It’s difficult to stick with our convictions when social mores run counter to them. On the mild end, we face repercussions that range from ridicule to being “canceled.” Some day, the risks may be more serious. We could face open persecution for our faith. As in the past, these clashes could threaten our relationships, our livelihood, and for some, their lives.
I hope and pray I find the strength to stand firm on my Christian beliefs when they are challenged or threatened. Zelensky has shown the world that fighting for something is not without a battle. He is fighting for his country and freedom. He faces physical enemies; our main enemy is spiritual and our armor has not changed since Paul gave us a list in Ephesians (Eph. 6: 10-20). While we fight in the spiritual realm, we may face very real opposition in our time and culture.
As an American, I realize that the religious freedoms I enjoy are supposed to make it easier for me to hold the faith I follow. If that changes and I face persecution, I pray I find the bravery to boldly proclaim my allegiance to Jesus Christ and a Christian worldview. It will require a choice between fear and courage.