| Dear Friends,|
Are Christians called to be bold?
Before you jump right to the “sometimes” answer, let’s think about this for a minute. It’s not that “sometimes” is the wrong answer. But maybe we need to think this through a little more carefully.
I think we may have a caricature in our minds about what it means to be bold. What comes to mind for me is the speech given by President Thomas J. Whitmore, played by Bill Pullman, in the 1996 movie Independence Day (it’s on YouTube if you’re interested). In the face of unassailable opposition, the President takes a microphone rallies the troops with a rousing, confident, impassioned address, with a hint of anger and a measure of bravado. It’s bold leadership at a moment when the audience is begging for someone to stand up and say “No more. We’re fighting back. And we’re fighting to win.”
There’s a reason the scene from the movie is memorable. It’s bold leadership. And bold leadership is effective, especially when we feel like our back is against the wall and the odds are against us. That’s when we want our leaders – our politicians, pastors, pro athletes, whoever is on our side and shares our values – we want them to be bold.
When we think about bold moments from the life of Jesus, what most often comes to mind is the scene in the Temple courtyard (it happened twice) where He turned over the money changers tables and rebuked them for making His Father’s house “a den of thieves.” Or maybe what’s known as the Olivette Discourse in Matthew 23, where Jesus over and over again pronounces a harsh judgment on the Scribes and the Pharisees. “Woe to you,” He says, over and over again.
Notice the link. The occasions where Jesus displayed the greatest boldness was when He was face to face with the hypocrisy of religious leaders. In His unassailable judgment, that was not the time for gentleness.
This theme carries over into the rest of the New Testament. The harshest words we find in the epistles are words aimed squarely at the false teachers who are trying to infiltrate the church. Peter says they are “blots and blemishes,” “irrational animals,” and those for whom “the gloom of outer darkness has been reserved.” Jude uses the same kind of strong language. John calls them liars and deceivers who are “from the world, who speak from the world, and the world listens to them.” And Paul says about them “let them be accursed.” Bold language.
The problem we have with the boldness we see in our day, whether it’s on social media or on cable news or in a university classroom – wherever we find it – is that it’s most often a mixture of pride, self-righteous, outrage and anger packaged as boldness. It’s completely void of any fruit of the Spirit. Love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and faithfulness and gentleness and self-control have their place, we say. But not when the stakes are as high as they are right now. You’ll never win the day with kindness and gentleness. We have to fight fire with fire. We have to be bold.
Except the Bible doesn’t tell us that we may have to set aside the fruit of the Spirit if things get really bad and the other side isn’t playing nice. Boldness in the Bible is never a carefully calculated pragmatic consideration. It’s the response of a godly person when the spiritual wolves are at the door.
But I can’t think of an example of godly prophetic boldness in the New Testament where the bold rebuke is leveled against the pagan culture in which the first century Christians were living. Instead, we find passages telling us to pray for those in power and to live such good lives among the Gentiles that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father (1 Peter 2:12). It’s hard to let your light shine before men if you’re constantly trying to shout them down.
The dictionary defines boldness as “taking risks, being confident and courageous.” I believe those qualities are consistent with who we ought to be as followers of Jesus. And I think courage, confidence and faith are consistent with manifesting the fruit of the Spirit. The same Bible that calls us to gentleness, patience and kindness tells us that we are to stay alert, stand firm, be courageous and be strong (1 Cor. 16:13).
What is often characterized as boldness in our day falls far short of the biblical call to be bold. In fact, we should note that Proverbs 21:29 tells us “the wicked man puts on a bold face but the upright gives thought to his ways.” We need to be on guard against willful and carnal boldness. It’s possible to take a stand for godliness or righteousness or holiness in ways that are ungodly and unholy. We should be careful here.
There is a right way for us to be bold, and we should pursue it. We see Christ honoring boldness on display throughout the New Testament as Paul confronts the Corinthians for their carnality or the Galatians for their lapse back into legalism. Paul even has to boldly oppose Peter publicly. “Because we have this hope (in the gospel),” Paul says, “we are very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12). But his prophetic boldness was always fueled by love – first for Christ, and then for those to whom he wrote.
Boldness may not be listed as a fruit of the Spirit. But Spirit-filled, Spirit-empowered, Spirit-led boldness is Christ honoring and God glorifying. Make it your aim to be bold. Just make sure it’s the right kind of bold.
Matt and Jen Gurney asked me to pass this note along to all of you.
What a blessing you have all been to our family. From initial check-ins, to financial assistance, to gift cards provided, to cars being loaned, for all the meals you have provided, and for sure all the ways you have prayed for and cared for us by “holding the rope” for us when we were struggling to know what to do – we echo what Paul says in Philippians 1:3-5:
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
We are beyond thankful for all of God’s gracious gifts and how so many of you have helped us keep our eyes fixed on eternity and our eternal King Jesus!
Grace and peace,
Matt and Jen Gurney
Men, have you signed up yet for the men’s breakfast? It’s two weeks away. It’s free. But we need a head count. Click here to let us know you’re planning to join us.
The next couple of Sundays will be special Sundays for us. This week, our Awana kids will share with us a song they’ve learned this year. And we’ll honor those students who are graduating from High School this year during our worship service.
The following Sunday, on Mother’s Day, we’ll join with moms and dads in our church who will be dedicating their children to the Lord.
If you have a child you would like to dedicate, contact Becky Perez and let her know. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget the end of the school year fiesta for students happening this Friday night.
And once again, here’s a reminder about what’s planned for our Student Summer Fun Days in June.
Click here for more info or to register on line.
Can you believe it’s almost summer? School is almost out?
We have a lot happening this summer at Redeemer. There’s a Backyard Bible Club for kids. An outreach event for students in Memphis. A day planned at Magic Springs (complete with a Crowder concert). A back to school pool party for everyone. And a lot more.
You can download a copy of the Summer Calendar by clicking here. Print a copy or add the important dates to your personal calendar.
And the summer kicks off with our Parking Lot/Backyard Picnic on June 7 (before the weather gets too hot).
Over the years, we’ve had a number of people in our church who have be part of a year-long deep dive into what the Bible teaches known as Downline. Those who have been through the program can tell you how transformative it is. It’s a lot of study and work, but for anyone who wants a comprehensive overview of scripture, it’s the perfect program.
As a church, we have provided a matching tuition scholarship for those who have gone through Downline in the past. If you’d like to find out more about the program you can click this link and check it out. And if you’re interested in enrolling and staring classes in the fall, let us know so we can help you with the cost.
The gospel of John wraps up where it began, with Jesus telling his disciples to “follow me.” This Sunday, we’ll examine what it means to follow Jesus and see how He makes it clear that following Him is a “one size fits one, not all” proposition as we wrap up our series on the Gospel of John.
See you in church.
Soli Deo Gloria!