Hi, friends. Are you bold or timid with speaking out about your faith? Is there a right or wrong way to be bold? Let’s discuss…
Boldness in the Early Church
The term “boldness” comes up many times in the Bible. In the Gospels (gospel means “good news”), we are told more than once that while John baptized with water, Jesus would baptize with the Holy Spirit and fire. Hence, we should be inflamed with passion to follow Jesus and spread God’s kingdom, and we should let the Holy Spirit guide us.
The early followers especially needed boldness to share a new religion with others. The Holy Spirit, the advocate promised by Jesus in John 14:25-27, fell on the disciples in Acts 2. The Holy Spirit empowered Peter, the disciple who denied Jesus before His crucifixion, to proclaim the Christian hope through Jesus to huge crowds. Though local leaders persecuted the first followers, they continued with their mission.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. (Acts 4:13, NRSV)
The Right Kind of Boldness
Because so many Christians have been bold in a negative way, these lists clarify good vs. bad boldness (in my opinion).
- Unafraid for others to know of our personal faith
- Brings up subject of personal faith when relevant/appropriate
- Unafraid to address criticism with humility, love, and truth
- Brings up personal faith when NOT relevant/appropriate
- Degrades those who disagree with personal faith
- Continues pushing the issue when others don’t walk to talk about it
One could argue that the church wouldn’t have spread if the early believers adhered to these lists, but they were trying to start a religion. Acting forceful with evangelism nowadays makes people feel like we’re “shoving religion down their throats.”
When is starting the conversation “relevant/appropriate?” Maybe it’s when a friend confides to us that they hate their life and have no hope. Maybe it’s when a friend is mourning the loss of a loved one. Maybe it’s when a friend is struggling with their personal relationships. We should balance gentleness and boldness–being sensitive to others’ feelings but bringing up faith when the time feels right. I wish I had a better idea, but honestly, I struggle with courage in this department.
In my opinion, evangelism today should focus on realigning the term “Christian” with following Jesus, making disciples, and transforming the world (the Great Commission as phrased by the Methodist church). The world interprets Christianity in many ways–arbitrary legalism, a justification for oppression, a mystical means to a political end, etc. We did this to ourselves by straying from His purpose and obeying our sinful natures.
We must realign with scripture and be bold in our ministry through agape love, radical hospitality, risk-taking mission work, etc. in order to serve others and (figuratively through encouraging believers, literally through witnessing to others) build up the body of Christ. (Refers to Ephesians 4:11-12 & countless verses in Paul’s letters to the churches about loving, serving, and uplifting our communities)
How to Be Bold
A while back, a guest speaker at my church preached a sermon titled “Dress for Success.” What we wear affects how we feel; I feel more confident in a dress than in sweatpants, but I feel more relaxed in the sweatpants.
During the sermon, he mentioned that many people don’t know how to share their faith, but if we dress in our “spiritual clothes” daily, we’ll feel more equipped.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. (Colossians 3:12-14, NRSV)
I am praying for boldness–not obnoxiousness, not brazenness, not condescending-ness…but gentle, loving, humble boldness. May the Holy Spirit empower each one of us to share our hope!
Thanks for reading!