Neville Chamberlain was elected to be Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1937 just before the start of World War II in 1939. He is best known for his policy of appeasement regarding Hitler and the Germans which he enacted when he signed the Munich Agreement on 30 September 1938, giving away part of Czechoslovakia to Nazi Germany led by Adolf Hitler.
Unfortunately, Chamberlain was not, then nor now, the only person in human history that valued appeasement over principle. Therefore, the world is forever thankful for Winston Churchill who was the polar opposite of the man he replaced in May 1940. Churchill who said:
“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” –Winston Churchill
I begin this post with Chamberlain because of the excellent way that he reminds us to where the absence of faith and courage leads. Imagine a world where leaders and their followers give in, follow the course of least resistance, and obey the inclinations of their fears.
The Bible has some striking stories of people who lived in faith and did not give in to fear. A few will help illustrate this:
- Abraham obeyed a call to leave his family and his land to follow God to places he had never gone. No map. Nothing other than the promise that Yahweh made to Abraham, Genesis 12:1.
- David volunteered to fight the giant, Goliath, in spite of the fact that he was young and small.
- Isaiah volunteered to be God’s spokesman to Judah, in the midst of a time of political turmoil and upheaval, Isaiah 6:1ff.
- Recalcitrant Moses accepted God’s call to go talk to Pharaoh in spite of great personal fears.
- Paul continued his mission to the Gentiles in spite of great personal suffering. 2 Corinthians 11:24-29.
These people were not judged by God in terms of their limitations – not Moses’ stuttering and how that would affect talking to Pharaoh. Not David’s small size against Goliath’s extreme size. Not Paul’s insignificance against huge crowds of angry people or the government of Rome. In fact, God prefers the times when the “deck is stacked against us.”
A little piece of paper blew up in my path in Adelaide, Australia which said, “The path of least resistance is what makes men and rivers crooked.” That quote is now taped in my Bible as a reminder that the way of Christ is not easy.
Humans tend to want to go the least difficult way. We dumb down, cop out, and look for the flattest route. Churchill inspired British people to give blood, sweat, and tears against an awful enemy. Jesus warned his followers that his way led only one direction, and that was to a cross.
If Chamberlain had continued as Prime Minister of Britain, WWII would have had a catastrophic outcome.