How do you react when you face opposition or criticism because of your faith? For many, the default position is one of retreat. Or an undertaking to tone things down. Undoubtedly some people do need to think about how they could share their faith in a way that is a little bit wiser. However, that’s probably not the case for most. It’s all too easy to run for cover and pray for protection or even – secretly, of course – call down fire from heaven on your critics.
Not so the church in Jerusalem. When they got into trouble with the authorities, their instinct was to pray. It’s what they prayed for that reveals so much about them:
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus. Acts 4.29-30
In other words, they prayed for more of what got them into trouble in the first place! Their default setting wasn’t one of fear, it was one of faith.
Sometimes instead of praying to God for greater boldness, we begin to pray against the enemy. Those kinds of prayers reveal that our default setting is one of fear. And when we react in fear we allow the enemy to distract us from the main task of seeing God’s kingdom extended.
How can we make sure that our default settings are faith based and not fear based? What does boldness look like? I think it comes down to having confidence in Jesus and in what Jesus has done in you. Over the last number of years there has been a lot of talk about “cringe free” evangelism. Unfortunately, some of our efforts to be “cringe free” have gone so far that we no longer mention the name of Jesus or disclose that we are Christians!
At a very basic level boldness means telling someone that you follow Jesus. And telling them about how that affects the way that you live. That is the simple kind of bold profession of faith that God loves and God blesses. The simple but bold profession of faith that He used to turn the Roman world of the apostles’ day upside down. The kind of bold profession that He still uses to turn worlds upside down today.