When it comes to promoting the Kingdom and proclaiming God's word, most of us fall into two categories: bold and not-so-bold. And the question is, which one is right?
So, let's look to scripture. It has a lot to say about being bold:
- Proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. Acts 28:31
- The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1
- ... We have a boldness and access with confidence through our faith [in Jesus Christ our Lord]. Ephesians 3:12
Looks clear enough, doesn't it? As Believers in Jesus, as people devoted to the Great Commission, as those who can't imagine for one minute being in Heaven without everyone we love - and even those we only just like a little - we take these verses as instruction. We read about the early church and Paul's letter of encouragement to the Ephesians and realize that we not only can but also must speak confidently of the truth of the scripture and man's desperate need for salvation.
We read the proverbs, written by Solomon under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and declare boldly the messages of the Bible about life and Heaven and sin and eternity.
And thank goodness we do. Because that is our mission - our collective job here on Earth. During what short lives we have here, our single most important accomplishment is to introduce people to Jesus. Family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, elevator companions - everybody. We want to present ourselves to God as workers, not ashamed of the truth, willing to sacrifice everything for Him.
Even if speaking the truth means that we are talked about - complete with eye-rolls. Or people avoid talking to us at all. Or they respond with ALL CAPS and indignation to posts on our social media pages.
We hope and pray that our lives will matter in the Heavenly plan. We work diligently and with gusto to pave the way for non-Believers, speaking out about all things evil and raising our voices in defense of God's will for the world: that everyone comes to faith in Jesus and lives with Him forever in Heaven.
And the only way that happens is if and when people believe the Truth.
For those well-practiced in boldness, these words about love and grace can be a bit pesky. The truth is the truth is the truth. If God did not want us to speak the truth, He would not have asked. And, if we are not bold enough to tell the truth even when it is not popular, we are failing to spread the Word to all people.
Some of the not-so-bold need to understand that love doesn't mean dodge the hard issues or ignore bad behavior, immoral choices, or sin. No, the truth is the Truth and we cannot fudge for comfort or convenience. God will not accept excuses.
But, love is often elusive or overrun - especially in this day and age when we are all witnessing speed-of-light online responses, public forums that become vicious and ugly, and blurred moral lines.
Jesus gave us direct instructions and commandments. He described how the life of a Believer should look. He listed what we need to embrace - and what we need to resist.
And He made two commandments stand out above all others. He didn't suggest or encourage. He commanded:
- Love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.
- Love your neighbor.
Love is the way. Love is the truth. Love is the life.
Maybe if we first love those who disagree with us, love those whose beliefs are different than ours, love like Jesus loved, maybe, by truly loving them, we will find we have only loving, kind, and graceful words to tell them the truth.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels,
but have not love,
I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.And if I have prophetic powers,
and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,
and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains,
but have not love,
I am nothing.If I give away all I have,
and if I deliver up my body to be burned,
but have not love,
I gain nothing.Love
does not envy or boast
is not arrogant or rude
does not insist on its own way
is not irritable or resentful
does not rejoice at wrongdoing
rejoices in the truth
bears all things
believes all things
hopes all things
Endures all things. 1 Corinthians 13:1-7