I've been thinking about the bold faith of a friend of mine recently and every single time I think about it, I'm even more amazed. This friend of mine purposely provokes people to think about Jesus Christ. He's relentless; he provokes people ON PURPOSE! He said to me once, "Oh, I've been provoking my brother-in-law with the Gospel and I will keep on provoking him." Can you imagine? He's not from the US, so I have to wonder if that's why he's so bold. In his country, is boldness more required? Or is it a case of reception, i.e. how he's received? Do people condemn him, start rumors about him, shun him, or lie about him because of his boldness? In the US, that's what often happens when we speak boldly about the Gospel and provoke anyone. It has happened to me and I wasn't even purposely provoking anyone!
Here in the US, we don't provoke people. Oh, a preacher might - from his pulpit. My husband has had people walk out on his preaching more than once because of his bold, direct message. Yet, he continues to preach the whole council of God, with or without the hearers' approval. But, as a general rule, the vast majority of the Christians I know don't purposely provoke people. When people don't receive our message, we tend to tone it down to make it more palatable.
The main reason we don't provoke people seems to be fear. We fear rejection. We fear being labeled. We fear losing a relationship. We fear. Ok, I get fear. Fear runs rampant. We tolerate even heresy within the church because of fear. Is our fear bigger than our burden? Oh, I hope not!
Most people don't think there's heresy within the church. I see it all the time, however. I see it when a preacher promotes a political agenda rather than a Gospel agenda. I see it when major doctrinal heresy is tolerated in the church in the name of "Christian" love. If we first love Christ, we will not tolerate or allow false doctrine within the church. We will stand against it, not openly tolerate it. Is it hard to speak out? As my fellow Minnesotans would say, "You betcha!" But, as hard as it is, it's necessary for the Gospel message to get out and remain pure.
I recall once when a lady in a Sunday School class stated, as part of a discussion, "Well, it doesn't have to be all about Jesus all the time!" I was shocked at a statement like that, but didn't say anything.....(fear). A couple of weeks later, she repeated the same thing and that time, I did not stay quiet.
I said, "Yes, it is all about Jesus, all the time. If it isn't, we can all just go home now." The lady who spoke out was not happy with me. My boldness for pure doctrine cost me that relationship; she walked away. So be it. Another time, a lady stood up and said, "We need to set aside the Word of God and love one another." At the time, I said nothing, but the next morning, I called her on the phone to clarify what she said. I thought certainly she didn't realize what she had just said, or that I had surely heard wrong. Well, not only did she reiterate what she said the night before, she got even bolder about it! So, I knew where she stood.......she set aside God's Word. Was I bold for calling her on it? You betcha! Did I have a choice? I don't think so. Does someone who truly knows Jesus Christ openly and intentionally set aside His Word? Oh, my. She desperately needs the Gospel.
So, that is why I will continue to be bold. Plus, on the day when I meet Him face to face, I won't be ashamed - at least of that. I truly admire my bold friend and hope that I can follow his example and step it up.