When you read the Book of Acts in the Bible, and especially chapters 13 on (Paul’s missionary journeys), you find a distinct narrative pattern, with a new relatively minor variations.
Paul and his companions enter a city, go to a synagogue, and are invited to speak, a common practice for visiting Jews, They preach the gospel, explaining how Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah. A number of people believe, everybody talks about their message, and the Jews in the synagogue get upset, disinviting Paul and his people. Paul preaches and teaches elsewhere; the Jews (or the silversmiths in Ephesus) raise a ruckus, and eventually Paul and his companions are driven out, and sometimes stoned and beaten.
The narrative is largely repeated everywhere Paul goes. There are at least two interesting observations from this repetition.
First, it’s clear that the gospel message drives people to extremes – they embrace it, or they want to kill the messenger (and sometimes try).
Second, Paul himself knows what will happen. He becomes as familiar with the pattern while living it as we are by reading it. Preach. Some believe. Others get upset. Bad things follow. On to the next town.
This would have to become discouraging after the first few times. And yet, something else happens each time, no matter how bad the previous experience was.
Paul speaks with boldness.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the synagogue rulers at Pisidian Antioch, or the philosophers in Athens, or Roman officials in Corinth, Ephesus and Jerusalem.
Paul speaks with boldness. Always.
We know Paul suffered. He recounts how many times he was beaten, imprisoned, stoned, lashed, assaulted and otherwise persecuted. We know he suffered with a “thorn,” even if the New Testament is not explicit as to what it actually was. And he was human – we know he must have experienced discouragement, despair, doubt, and possibly even depression.
But when it mattered, he spoke boldly. He could argue and debate with the best of them. He was educated, born a Roman citizen when it still counted for something, and had studied under Gamaliel in Jerusalem.
Boldness, Brennan Manning suggests in The Furious Longing of God, is one of the characteristics of a disciple. Be bold, he says. Boldly ask. You don’t need a cohort of sympathizers or any other kind of security blanket.
So speak with boldness. And act with boldness.
You’re a disciple.
Led by Jason Stayszsen and Sarah Salter, we’re discussing The Furious Longing of God. To see more posts on this chapter, “Boldness,” please visit Jason at Connecting to Impact.