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Lessons from Athanasius, Part 4 May 24, 2007

Posted by larrylaz in Quotes.

This will be the last post on lessons from the life of Athanasius, with the help of John Piper. I hope others have had their souls stirred by the providence of God in the life of one courageous man, who would not allow the truth about Jesus to be suppressed. Here’s a final lesson, which again is especially relevant for me:

Joyful courage is the calling of a faithful shepherd.

Athanasius stared down murderous intruders into his church. He stood before emperors who could have killed him as easily as exiled him. He risked the wrath of parents and other clergy by consciously training young people to give their all for Christ, including martyrdom. He celebrated the fruit of his ministry with these words: “in youth they are self-restrained, in temptations endure, in labors persevere, when insulted are patient, when robbed make light of it: and, wonderful as it is, they despise even death and become martyrs of Christ”34—martyrs not who kill as they die, but who love has they die.

Athanasius contra mundum should inspire every pastor to stand your ground meekly and humbly and courageously whenever a biblical truth is at stake. But be sure that you always out-rejoice your adversaries. If something is worth fighting for, it worth rejoicing over. And the joy is essential in the battle, for nothing is worth fighting for that will not increase our joy in God. Our people must see that.

Courage in conflict must mingle with joy in Christ. This is what Athanasius loved about Antony and what he sought to be himself. This was part of his battle strategy with his adversaries:

Let us be courageous and rejoice always. . . . Let us consider and lay to heart that while the Lord is with us, our foes can do us no hurt. . . . But if they see us rejoicingin the Lord, contemplating the bliss of the future, mindful of the Lord, deeming all things in His hand . . . —they are discomfited and turned backwards.35

So, brothers, even if at times it may feel as though we are alone contra mundum, let us stand courageous and out-rejoice our adversaries.

What a challenge! Contending for truth is easy, when compared to finding joy in the battle instead of discouragement and resentment. O Lord, grant us all the joy that should mark those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!




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