Mar1WedMarch 1, 2017
Should you happen to walk into our house around five o’clock in the evening, you would likely be greeted by a loud, enthusiastic voice shouting, “Hi!!! Daaaadddddy! Mommmmmmy!” Even before they know who has entered, often one of our twin boys will quickly shout multiple greetings while running to the open door. Their bold declarations are a wonderful greeting upon returning home.
Adults can learn a lot about boldness from children. Certainly, children know how to be shy and timid, but that’s not what I’m referring to. They often say what they mean and express exactly what they feel. Children, in their innocence, haven’t yet learned to ‘tone down’ their message. If they think it, they say it – and often say it boldly!
This kind of unashamed boldness is what came to my mind this week as I read Romans 1 and these words, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). For some of us, this is a very common message. We’ve heard this for years through our time in the church.
However, just for a moment, consider the culture in which the Apostle Paul lived and taught.
In this chapter, Paul describes the surrounding Greek culture as one that “exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (1:25). As a result of this idolatry, Paul was living among people who were claiming to be wise in their rejection of God (1:22), sought to magnify images of the human body and living animals more than the glory of God (1:23), learned to dishonor their bodies with enflamed sexual desire for either men or women (1:24, 26-27), and were full of pride, gossip, slander and hate (1:29-30). We don’t need much of an imagination to conceive what it would be like to boldly proclaim, “Jesus loves you and wants to save you from your sin” within such a culture. We already live in one.
Speaking boldly for Jesus (albeit with gentleness and respect – 1 Peter 3:15) is a tremendous challenge. It is such a challenge that when Jesus spent time with God the Father just hours before His crucifixion, he prayed that his disciples be joyfully sent into the world, kept from the evil one, sanctified in truth and kept in His name (John 17:11ff). He knew that such a message would be despised by most, rejected by some and received by some. Therefore, He prayed for his disciples (and us) to press on.
As we begin to study the prayer habits of the Early Church through the book of Acts, my prayer is that we continue to learn to be childlike in our dependency upon the Father and childlike in our bold love of Him. Perhaps we don’t need to shout “Jesus” every time we are given the opportunity. But then again, perhaps it may do us some good to boldly declare our love for Him…somewhere, perhaps beginning in our places of worship and prayer. We can’t learn to be bold for Him if we are too timid to be childlike again.