This past weekend at our worship gathering, we discussed what true confidence looks like. It's not outward bravado that hides inner fears and insecurity. Rather, a God-given confidence is inner security about who we are and what we do. In John 8, Jesus has this security because he lived in complete reliance on the Father. No matter how challenging and critical his opposition may have been, Jesus remained confident because he was doing exactly what God had called Him to do.
This message made me think of another historical figure who also displayed this kind of confidence. Had time allowed, I would have used this as an illustration, but I guess that's what a blog is for- all those wonderful thoughts that hit the cutting room floor.
In the late 3rd and early 4th century, a man named Athanasius became an influential leader of the church, serving as the bishop of Alexandria. This church father, known as the black dwarf (and you thought your nickname was bad), would face many trying times in his quest to advance the gospel of Christ. Athanasius led the opposition against Arius, a guy who was trying to standardize the theology that Jesus wasn't really God. Because Arius had the ear of the emperor and Athanasius usually did not, Athanasius would be exiled from his own city no less than 5 times. But Athanasius had confidence- inner security that what he was doing was from God, and so he could not be dissuaded. He continued to champion his God-given convictions, and by the end of his lifetime, the Arian controversy was put to rest and the role of Christ in the Trinity solidified. Athanasius is called the first doctor of the church, and contributed greatly to developing theology of the Trinity and settling the canon (books of the Bible) as we now have them. Had Athanasius lived with only external bravado, our faith might look much different; much less true to the word of God. But Athanasius was led by an inner reliance on the Father that saw him through all the controversy to a point of great influence.
In your life, may you not settle for mere external displays of bravery and courage. May you have true confidence that comes from complete reliance on the Father.