Stories continue to flow out of Egypt, so many tales of determination, hope and valor. Protesters who were not afraid to stand up to a notoriously brutal state police force. Women and men who sniffed lemons, onions and vinegar to stand their ground even when tear gassed, who stood up to rubber bullets wearing only makeshift body armor cobbled together from cardboard and plastic soda bottles.
Were you ever, like me, wondering if you would have had the courage to stand up like that? After all, hundreds died in the protests.
When in 1956 Khrushchev pronounced his famous denunciation of Stalin, someone in the Congress Hall is reported to have said, “Where were you, Comrade Khrushchev, when all these innocent people were being slaughtered?” Khrushchev paused, looked around the hall, and said “Will the man who said that kindly stand up!” Tension mounted in the hall. No one moved. Then Khrushchev said, “Well, whoever you are, you have your answer now. I was in exactly the same position then as you are now.”
And we know exactly what that position is. Fear. The great paralyzer, the universal depressant, the foil of love. “Perfect love casts out fear,” the Bible says. When we are indwelt by the God who is love, we are able to stand up.
I will never know if I would have the courage to stand up to the business end of a rifle. But rather than wonder about the heroic, why don’t we pray this week for enough love to overcome our everyday fears. Like, “Will there be enough money?” or “What will happen if I tell him the truth?” or “What if the tumor comes back?”
My brothers and sisters, stand up.