Finding the Courage to Speak

NB: Sorry that I haven’t posted in a while, a combination of work and holiday time! It’s good to be back!

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My day to day work as a Pastoral Assistant in a church naturally involves speaking about Jesus to a whole variety of people. And yet sometimes my courage fails me completely!

Its hard to be constantly transgressing one of the cardinal rules of Britishness. The one that states that polite people don’t talk of personal political or religious views in everyday conversations. Religion is a taboo subject these days, or at least one to be kept private.I clam up with my non Christian friends. I falter when someone suggests I might be wrong, or stupid. I change the subject when a new acquaintance raises an eyebrow at my career choice.

I’m a (fairly) normal person. I’m aware of social norms. And like most people I want others to like me.

How do I reconcile all of this with Jesus’ command in the Bible to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) – to actively tell people about Jesus so that they might begin to follow him too!

How do I find the courage to speak?

Some days I wake up and feel like a huge fraud in my job and my life as a Christian. Shouldn’t God have chosen someone braver and bolder, more articulate, better educated, with superior reasoning skills? (I tend to tangle my logic).

Don’t get me wrong – I am 100% convinced of what I believe, and that it’s the best news I can offer.

I know from my own experience, that knowing God personally is a wonderful, humbling, mind- expanding, peace-giving thing!

But some days I feel tongue tied.

I know that telling people that God requires their worship will be unpopular news! I know that many of my friends will reject this for a whole number of reasons. And I could have an easier life if I keep silent. But the stakes are too high. My private faith must be public, because God demands a personal response from every one of us, and we don’t know when he will return. The clock is ticking.

Jesus himself taught that many would reject him and his gospel as too hard, too easy, too unexpected, too explosive, or too challenging. In the Bible book of 1 Peter, we are told in chapter 2 that Jesus will be a “precious cornerstone” (like the key foundation stone of a building) and “whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” But in the same passage we’re also shown a second, opposite reaction. For some, Jesus will be “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They will
dislike or disbelieve his message, and ultimately reject him.

Christians, we need to be clear on this. We can’t be silent and we can’t shape and sanitise the gospel into a message that is palatable and inoffensive to all in our time and culture. The message of Jesus Christ stands above all times, cultures and peoples as unchanging truth for all.

Finding My Voice

So what will give me the courage to speak? A couple of things:

When I think through what I believe and as I read the Bible, I am convinced afresh that it’s really good news! News I want to share.

Secondly, when Jesus left first left his disciples to continue his work he promised “Surely I am with you always” a promise that stands for Christians today, and this should give us courage. Christianity may seem passé in Britain today, but Jesus Christ is eternal, and his truth is timeless.

Thirdly, changing hearts and lives is ultimately God’s job. I speak confidently and sensitively of what I know and have experienced, and I entrust the rest to him.

This is what the Apostle Paul said on this subject “You know how badly we had been treated at Philippi just before we came to you and how much we suffered there. Yet our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. 3 So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery.

4 For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. 5 Never once did we try to win you with flattery, as you well know. And God is our witness that we were not pretending to be your friends just to get your money! 6 As for human praise, we have never sought it from you or anyone else.”

There’s a lot we can learn from this short passage. But notice in particular how Paul’s trust in God and the truth of ‘good news’ that he teaches, frees him from people-pleasing and cowardice, and the need for deceit and trickery. He speaks plainly and boldly, and trusts God for the rest.

I care about my friends, I don’t want them to face God’s anger, and I want them to experience his incredible love and forgiveness. And I want to honour God by speaking about him well, and leading others to esteem him.

I’m praying that God will help me to love him more than I love popularity or people-pleasing, so that I will be willing to be mocked and disliked, or worse, to ensure people hear about Jesus. When eternity is at stake even great suffering for the gospel pales in significance.

Do you have any comments? What helps you to speak about Jesus?

If you’ve found yourself reading this and you’re not a Christian, why not put me to the test and ask me all about it?

Nim

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3 responses

  1. Great piece once again Nim and one which challeges us as Christians to the very core of what we are in Christ Jesus.
    Over the past three years, I have become increasingly aware of how us British people are using our Britishness as a cover up for areas where we can and should be vocal. It’s interesting to look at specific protest groups and how vocal they can be and are over matters which, yes, they have a degree of importance in life, but they don’t have eternal significance. For example, look back at the protests on Whitehall and around London on how the banks treated the public and their investments and the banker’s bonuses. Agreed, that was people’s hard earned investments that the bankers squandered and would have an affect on the type of pensions people would be in line in the future. Another local example; Badger culling, to protect farmer’s livestock and the protestors are prepared to risk their lives by standing between a bullet and a badger – yet they don’t know where they will spend their eternity.
    I have an idea that this is one of Satan’s current ploys (not a new one either), to get people far more interested in aspects of life that, yes, they have meaning in certain people’s lives, but essentially hold little long term value. Satan ‘values’ the idea that if the British public focus their minds on short term protests, their eternal destiny is somehow just put ‘on-hold’.
    As you so rightly pointed out from one the scripture texts, God will never leave us nor forsake us. We somehow (I include myself deeply in this), take on board the lie that when we speak up or out for Christ and the difference He makes in our lives, that God somehow abandons us to fend for ourselves as we speak. Thankfully, nothing could be further from the truth. Yet, once again, Satan feeds us that lie.
    Ultimately, as Christians, we do have an eternal responsibility to speak out for Jesus, as we will be asked as to what we have done in Jesus’ name. Not speaking up or out costs us far less than the quality of the reward given to us in heaven.

    • Thanks Alex for your thoughtful response, I think you’re right that Satan loves to distract us from matters of eternity, in a whole variety of subtle ways. May God help us to be faithful and courageous in our gospel conversations!

  2. Pingback: Finding the Courage to speak (Part 2) | One of the Thirsty

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