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.

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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.

How Can We Compete?

How Can We Compete?

February 1st 2024

Have you heard this one? Or maybe you’ve said it: “In the old days everyone went to church,” it goes, “but these days they have their sport, their phones, their Netflix etc, and how can we compete with that? Young people are being taught X and Y and school and on TV, and how can we possibly compete with that?”

Such talk follows a predictable script that ends with a shrug and a ‘What can you do?’ But it doesn’t have to. Such a conversation can be transformed into a holy moment.

What can we do? We can repent for starters! For whenever we hold up Netflix, footy, property ownership, Marxism or sex as something against which Christ has little chance, we are saying that such a thing is greater than Him, that its gospel is better than his. That’s idolatry on our part.

Can’t compete? We’re not meant to compete! There’s nothing that compares with Christ. He is not yet another product in a long line-up of life-fulfillment-possibilities. He is the life. His kingdom is the only lasting thing.

Even in the sharp teeth of the Roman Empire, even from its prison cells or facing its executions – even from right under its enormous foot – we don’t see the New Testament writers despairing that Christianity can’t possibly compete on such an unfair playing ground. No, they fully expected that the empire would indeed become the dust of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream-statue, and Christ’s kingdom the lasting mountain. Even up against every difficulty and headwind, we are more than conquerors, says Paul.

We have the best news, the real Christ, the truest truth, the liveliest water. It’s unbecoming of us to take the stance of a worried competitor – it’s a false witness. Just as so many Australians are realising that the gods and ideologies they’ve been sold are lemons, if they see us looking bitter, they’ll assume Christ is just another one.

No, mission begins with the joy of knowing that the crucified Jesus is alive, reigns and will return. It begins with deep peace and confidence in the Spirit. Let that be the script of our conversations, and we go from there!

Did David ‘compete’ with Goliath? Discuss!

 

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

Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus.