Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cowardly Lion Syndrome

Are you suffering from Cowardly Lion Syndrome (CLS)?

In the classic movie, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, there is a character called the Cowardly Lion. Those who are familiar with the movie will agree that He is quite a contradiction. The Lion is called the "King of the Jungle." He is a most powerful and majestic predator; no other animal dare challenge him in his natural environment. He is at the top of the food chain and has even been known to go after humans. His powerful jaws and strong swift legs enable him to take down much larger prey as he works in conjunction with his fellow lions.

Yet in the movie, this character is anything but a powerful beast. In fact, the Cowardly Lion says he even scares himself. He is fearful of his own shadow. He longs to be what he was created to be, but lacks the courage to stand up for himself. He makes this speech about courage in the movie which goes like this:
“What makes a king out of a slave? Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist, or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder? Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the "ape" in apricot? What have they got that I ain't got?...COURAGE!”
God wants us to be courageous lions who boldly proclaim his message of salvation to the lost. Too often we cower behind our church pews and pray that no one swats us on our nose. We forget that God "gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." (2Ti 1:7 ESV)

Do you find it hard to talk about Jesus with your friends? Do you avoid the subject all together because you don't know what to say? Deep within your heart you want to speak up but can't because of fear. You might have CLS.

If you're a Cowardly Lion, you're in good company. The disciples were Cowardly Lions at one point too. Peter denied knowing the Lord three times while Jesus was enduring the unlawful interrogation leading to the crucifixion. Right after the crucifixion, the disciples were fearful of being identified with Jesus. The Bible says, "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews..." (John 20:19 ESV)

The only thing that made a difference with the disciples was the infilling of the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost, these men laid aside their fears and began to boldly proclaim the message of Jesus. In fact, in Acts 4, we see where Peter and John - who had been arrested - stood before the very council - the Sanhedrin - that had instigated the death of Jesus and said:
"let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (Act 4:10-12 ESV)
Just as the Cowardly Lion had to go to the Wizard to receive his courage, we must go to the Holy Spirit for courage. "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." (Act 1:8 ESV)

In my moments of witnessing on the streets of the inner city, I have to rely completely upon the Spirit of God to help me witness. I never know how someone is going to react when I approach them on the street with a gospel tract. I try to stay in constant communication with God through prayer while I am sharing the gospel. I ask, "What scripture should I use Lord? How do I respond to that objection? How is this person hurting on the inside? How can I give them comfort while pointing them toward You?" If I just use some canned gospel script, I know that I will miss what God is doing to draw this person to Himself.

Every born again believer is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. We don't get any more of the Spirit when we ask. Being filled means to allow Him to have complete control over our actions. We can be filled with the Spirit if we meet His conditions of: 1) Confession of all known sin, 2) Emptying ourselves completely of self, 3) Yielding complete control of our life to Him and 4) Allowing with word of God to dwell in our hearts. When we do this we will find complete freedom to witness and proclaim the message of Christ.

If you are suffering from Cowardly Lion Syndrome, ask God to give you a fresh infilling of His Spirit today. He longs for you to become the courageous lion that He meant for you to be.