A Particular Kind of Boldness

A Particular Kind of Boldness

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. Acts 4:31

It takes courage on multiple levels to live as a representative of Jesus Christ. Courage before Christ himself, to have the nerve to say Yes, Lord, I’ll be your person in this place as opposed to Master, I know you are a hard man … so I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground.

But courage also, of course, in the face of the world, because when we endeavour out in Jesus’ name, we’re likely to receive the same full gamut of different responses that Jesus himself received – welcomed and honoured through to mocked, despised and rejected.

Now this is nothing to do with success or failure. If you board a ship and share Christ, all 100 passengers may receive you happily. Or they may hate you and throw you overboard. Neither outcome necessarily means you’ve represented Jesus well or badly. Each could be a beautiful worship and service to Jesus.

SacAg128 image

The point is, it’s out of your control. There is no way to program the mission of God so that an outcome is guaranteed. God refuses to simply reprogram the robots, but instead makes himself vulnerable to rejection. (Paradoxically, wonderfully, he wins our hearts through having his broken.)
So the boldness we need, and the boldness the first disciples sought and received from God, is not an imperviousness to rejection, like a coat of armour so strong we can simply crash through and feel no pain. On the contrary, it is the courage to feel that pain.

It’s interesting that the word gallantry has two main definitions: ‘Great bravery in battle’ and ‘polite and respectful attention in courtship’. Do you see how these are linked? Both involve the willingness to be shot down. The boldness that sacred agents need by the Spirit is this Christlike form of boldness. It steps out from behind safe cover. It takes the first steps forward toward the other because they have God’s attention and God’s respect. It is prepared to suffer pain, but it takes pains not to inflict it.

The more we can take that posture and those steps in all the places God sends us, the more likely we are to in fact receive a very positive response. So let’s spend less time calculating our chances and more time asking God for his kind of boldness. If you’re thinking of inviting someone to church, or Alpha etc – worry less about whether they might say no, than about how their life may be if no one invites them at all.

 

Author: Andrew Turner is Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries. 

Photo by Manfred Richter (CC)

 

Thanks so much to all who have supported the Australian Baptist Easter Offering – which funds Crossover to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus. It’s not too late to contribute if you haven’t.

So That’s What a Bushel Is

So That's What a Bushel Is

October 1st 2023

There’s an art to inviting without inviting: ‘We must have you over for a meal sometime.’ Just look at the sheer beauty of that sentence. It has all you want in warmth and friendliness, without, you know, ever having to actually eat with the person. 

Australian Baptists are generally a warm and happy bunch. According to the NCLS1 results, Baptist churches are the place to be: 88% of us have a strong sense of belonging, 89% agree that our church is inclusive of different kinds of people, and 78% found it easy to make friends in our local church. Considering the epidemic of loneliness in Australia, our communities are some sort of dream land. But are we really as inclusive as we say?

There’s another, more troubling figure in our survey results. Those of us who ‘invited to a church service here any friends/relatives who don’t currently attend a church’ has fallen significantly – from 41% in 2006 to 27% now. For the first time, the inclination of Baptists to invite an outsider has fallen below the inclination of outsiders to accept such an invitation! 29% of non-church Australians say they are ‘Extremely likely’ or ‘Very likely’ to attend a church service if invited by a friend or family member.2

Friends, this raises serious questions that go deeper than our choices of outreach resources and evangelistic technique. Let us search our hearts with the question, ‘Do we really want people to be included, like God wants them to be included?’ I know there’s more to mission than inviting people to church, but there’s not less to mission than that.

If we still believe that well-worn myth that ‘nobody’s interested’ in church, we’re wrong! And if we lower a bowl (that’s what a bushel is) over our lamp Mt 5:15 as though to keep the light and warmth to ourselves, we’re very wrong! It doesn’t just hide the flame, it smothers it.

Let’s arrest the slide of Sunday gatherings becoming weekly quiet times, when we withdraw from the world. (We need those daily.) No, when we gather, it should be our time to shine. What better way to show people Christ, than to show them the body of Christ?

Author: Andrew Turner is Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries. 

Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus.