Sept. 11, 2020, Acts 14:1-7
What stops you from boldly sharing the Good News of God’s grace with others? In a time where division and violent disagreement seem more common than ever, it usually feels safer to “preach with your actions” instead of your words. As a preacher, it feels way safer to preach a sermon in a worship service than to actually talk with my neighbor about how God’s grace has changed my world.
To be clear, every Jesus follower is called to demonstrate the hope we have with our actions. (See James 2:14-26) But when we take an honest look in the mirror, most of us hide behind this idea out of social self-preservation, claiming that we are being a stealthy missionary in a complicated culture. However, God calls us to preach boldly with our actions and our words. Paul and Barnabas demonstrate this again here in Acts 14, but Paul reminds the Romans that faith in the Good News comes by hearing about Jesus, meaning someone needs to boldly and lovingly speak up. (See Romans 10:9-17)
Here is why I sometimes get shy about sharing the Good News outside of my job: I don’t want to make someone I care about, have to see regularly, or don’t know very well feel offended or uncomfortable. I don’t want someone to associate me or Jesus with those Christians: the self-righteous-screaming-snobby-hypocritical-unloving Christians. (Never mind I just unlovingly judged them to be beneath me rather than admiring their boldness and choosing a more loving, Christ-like method that is actually impactful in our cultural context.) At the end of the day, I care more about what they think of me than I do about what they think of God or how much God thinks of them with his infinite love.
Preaching so boldly you get stoned (the biblical or recreational way) is not a badge of honor to pursue. The goal is to love God and others so boldly you speak up and share the Good News of God’s love, even if some decide to hate you. The goal is not to tell the world they’re going to hell if they don’t look and live like you. Shame disconnects, but Good News of God’s kindness toward everyone opens doors! Besides, our life doesn’t earn our way to heaven no matter how biblical we try to live! (See Romans 3:23)
See, even if you don’t share your faith, someone will disagree with you, want to cancel you, or gossip about you. But what if instead of saving face and leaving the world to their assumptions, we shared what Jesus is really like and how deep his love really is?
Questions for reflection:
Who is someone you are hesitant to share your faith with? What is the main reason you hold back from sharing your faith? Is that reason disguising your fear with Christian niceties? Ask God, what does sharing boldly with love look like for this person.
One of the best ways to share God’s grace is to tell your story. Here is a format to write out your own three-sentence testimony: “Before I knew God’s grace… (what did you need God’s grace for?) Then God showed up when… (How did you discover God’s grace). I’m certainly not perfect, but now my life… (How did God’s grace change you?)”