One of my favorite chapters in the Bible over the past year has become Acts 4. When we think of the early Church we often focus on Acts 2, but it’s chapter 4 where the fun really starts happening. The Holy Spirit has already been given, the Church has expanded (to thousands of people), and for the first time Peter and John are facing real trouble. They’re taken before the Jewish, ruling authorities (the Sanhedrin) and are on trial. Their lives are at stake and these ordinary, seemingly unqualified (Acts 4:13), men begin to speak boldly of Jesus and the movement of His followers.
They’re on trial for healing a lame man (crippled, not boring!). The Sanhedrin, not knowing how to handle the situation, eventually releases them…and, when most of us would have coward in fear, it says the believers prayed, “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” (Acts 4:29) They had just been imprisoned and now they pray for MORE boldness?!Weren’t they already too bold? Wasn’t that the problem in the first place?
I’m 1,000% against not understanding the context in which you minister and not using your brain when carrying out your mission. We’re to help a city or community, not create division and be outcasted as Christians because of stupidity and lack of tact. But in suburban culture we often error on the side of complacency because we’re afraid people won’t accept us, if we’re overtly passionate in our pursuit of Christ’s mission. I have yet to ever find a non-Christian friend (and yes I actually have a lot of them!) who’s been offended because I actually practice what I believe. Offense comes from stupidity and lack of concern for others. Notice it wasn’t the non-Christian community that was a offended by the disciples healing of the lame man. It was the Pharisees…the religious zealots!
Authentic boldness in your faith will not lead to the alienation of your community; it will most likely build stronger bridges to it. It will be the religious zealots that become offended. The ones that worship organizational nostalgia over the mission of Jesus. They become more in love with their controllable power than the very real, life-giving power of Jesus Christ and His purposes in this life.
I want to encourage you: don’t settle in your faith. Complacency WILL suck the life out of you. Create healthy family/life systems with needed rest and relaxation, but don’t sell out to a life of self-indulgence. Don’t become another fence-riding Christian. Nobody respects that. Not followers of Jesus and definitely not non-Christians that smell your hypocrisy from a mile away. Live boldly and love deeply.
We have seen God do SO MUCH since moving to Indiana and it’s because so many have caught this Biblical understanding of what it means to follow Jesus. Leading Mercy Road Church is an amazing privilege and blessing. I get to look forward to every aspect of my job! Thank you all for living differently!