Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Playing it Safe?

                Yesterday I went out to lunch with a sister in the Lord and we talked about some of the things we are currently learning through our study in the book of Acts. One of the things that have stuck out at the both of us is the fact that the Apostles had a boldness that surpassed their fear. They were not afraid to speak out and speak up. They spoke the truth with great boldness. The word “boldness” has been rolling around in my mind this morning because of what we discussed yesterday. She and I both have been playing it safe when it comes to our faith in Jesus Christ, and I want to ask you today if you too are playing it safe.

                “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
                Peter and John have healed the lame man in Chapter 3, and then they go on to preach the name of Jesus Christ and approximately five thousand more men got saved. Peter and John stood up in the face of all that witnessed the healing and preached Christ. They did not take counsel together, pray together and then prepare a sermon, they stood up and they boldly proclaimed that Jesus Christ was God and He had died to save them from their sins. Now, this upset the Sadducees and the priests because they did not believe that Jesus had risen from the dead, in fact, they refused to believe that resurrection was even a possibility. They did not believe in life after death. (Kind of “Sad- u-cee”)
                So, these men took Peter and John into custody and threw them into prison until they could figure out what to do with them. Then the scripture tells us that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit (4:8) and he speaks the truth of God’s word to them. Peter and John had just spent the night in jail. They were probably tired, hungry, and wearied, yet they spoke the next day with great boldness.
              
  Boldness, how many of us have boldness in our walks? Or, do we play it safe? Peter and John faced the same men who had just sentenced Jesus to death on the cross, and had the power to do the same to them. So, what did they do? Did they stay quiet and not say anything, or did they speak what God told them to speak and preach the gospel to them? They preached, and they had great boldness when they spoke. Boldness means to be free and fearless with confidence. Those who have boldness will be unreserved and not afraid of what might happen if they speak out. Being bold not only means that we have courage, but it means that we have complete confidence in Christ. Peter and John had complete and total confidence in Christ because “they had been with Jesus,” and they were “filled with the Holy Spirit”.  Can we say the same thing about ourselves?
                Are we confident in Christ? Boldness comes when we become confident in Christ, in His work, and in His name. Peter and John were willing to be persecuted, beaten, thrown in jail, ridiculed and even put to death for Christ. Are we willing to do the same? Are we willing to step out of our safe zones and be bold for Jesus? Having boldness does not mean that you go around yelling and screaming at people to know Jesus. Having boldness means that we are not afraid to speak Jesus, to live for Jesus and to die for Jesus (if need be) in the face of opposition. We are not ashamed nor afraid to speak the name of Jesus to whomever, whenever.
                H.G. Wells said, “The trouble with so many people is that the voice of their neighbors sounds louder in their ears than the voice of God.” I believe this is one of the reasons why the church today has lost so much of its influence. Because we would rather play it safe than be bold for Christ. We would rather not offend anyone than actually stand up and tell people the truth of God’s word. We are afraid to be
persecuted, we are afraid of what might happen to us if we do speak up. The world that Peter and John lived in wanted to hear nothing of Jesus, and did everything in their power to put out the fire of Christianity. They killed Christians, threw them into prisons, beat them, stoned them, and made them outcasts. Our world is no different today, and all these things are happening to Christians around the world. When we truly understand that we are to have boldness for Jesus Christ, that we are to be a royal and holy priesthood, (1 Peter 2:9) separated to God for the purpose of preaching and teaching Christ; then we will also be persecuted by the world.
                But instead, we are afraid to offend someone. We are afraid that we might turn them off of Christ if we speak too loudly. And then we wonder why the church has lost its affect on the world around us. When I read the book of Acts I see a body of believers that are bold, and are not afraid to speak Jesus whenever and wherever the Holy Spirit leads them. But today, I see a church that is afraid to speak to much Jesus because people might be offended, and then persecution may follow.
                Peter and John did not hesitate in the face of danger. They were not fearful of any danger that may come upon them because they were completely and totally sold out for Jesus. Their confidence came from the power of God working in them. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and were able to do what He had called them to do, and speak what He told them to speak because they spent time with Jesus, and they relied upon His Holy Spirit. God spoke to Jeremiah the prophet and told him to “not be afraid of their faces, for I am with thee to deliver thee,” (Jeremiah 1:8 KJV) If God is with us too, then why are we so afraid to step out in faith and tell others about Jesus. Paul said, “If God be for us, then who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
                So many ministries, so many churches, so many of us today are ineffective as Christians because we are afraid to speak boldly and plainly the truth of Jesus Christ to the world around us. We are afraid we will be persecuted, we are afraid we will lose our homes, our jobs, our cars, and our security. But all these things are worthless if we do not allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work boldly in our lives. William Barclay writes “The most unanswerable defense of Christianity is a Christian man.” The proof that people need to see, the boldness that we need to have is lived in us and through us each and every day. Preach Jesus; speak Jesus, live Jesus, boldly and without fear. We have lost our affect upon the world because we would much rather play it safe then risk the possibility of falling into persecution.
              
  Jesus tells us that we will be persecuted when we live our lives boldly for Him. Jesus was the best example we have of boldness and what it is supposed to look like in us. But how many of us are really willing to step out of the safe zone and into the boldness that Jesus wants us to have in Him? If we are fully confident in His power, then our boldness should just come naturally. Our lack of boldness is a testimony to us that we do not have full confidence in Him. The greatest compliment I have ever been given was that I was a “Jesus Freak”, and that I had “too much Jesus” in me. Praise God! That means that I have been bold, that I have not been afraid to face down opposition and be the woman God has called me to be. But to have boldness, we must have complete and utter confidence in Christ. If we do not, then our boldness will be of no effect.

                I pray today that we would all recognize and repent of the safe zones we have put our faith into and step out in boldness to be the witnesses, and the people He has called us to be. Not being fearful of man, but rather proclaiming in the face of opposition and persecution the truth of the Gospel of Grace that we have been given through Jesus Christ our Lord. Be bold Church! In Jesus Name, to Him be all the glory and honor and praise, forever and ever, amen.