Bold. What do you think of? A winged eyeliner, an athlete? Are you practicing boldness? If so, is it the world’s boldness in everything from clothing to sexual orientation, or the Lord’s boldness?
Acts 4:23-31 states,
“When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, 25 who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,
“‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers were gathered together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed’—
27 for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”
Contextually, Peter and John have just been held in prison overnight, and called before the rulers, elders, and scribes, to give an account of the power and name through which they had healed a lame beggar. Earlier in the chapter it was stated “Now when they saw the boldnessof Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.” After being charged not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they are released. Boldness. What is it, why was it so crucial to the early church, and are we putting it into action today?
Defined as a willingness to take risks and act innovatively, with synonyms such as courage and confidence, boldness is something many of us struggle with. How is one bold, yet submissive or meek? Some perhaps struggle with the concepts of confidence mixing with humility. Yet we see a pattern of boldness in the apostles and the early church. Acts 26, for example, has Paul on trial before King Agrippa. As Festus tries to quiet Paul as he shares about his conversion, declaring him out of his mind, Paul replies “I am not out of my mind, most excellent Festus, but I am speaking true and rational words. For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly…” How could we be anything but bold when we have the true and rational words of scripture to spread?
Even as he speaks so boldly, Paul is respectful, realizing his place, as we see when he addresses authority such as Festus or Agrippa. We are not to be confident in ourselves, but, as Galatians 6:14 says, “…far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Paul is addressing the matter of circumcision, which some believers required of their Gentile brethren for ‘bragging rights.’ Let us not be boastful in anything, unless it is the cross of Christ! We are to be humble in our own gains, but boastful in what the Lord has done for us. Humility in boldness.
How does one become bold? Have we not seen in Acts 4 just that? The rulers, elders, and scribes Peter and John came before saw from their boldness that they had been with Jesus. How can we not follow their example? Philippians 4:6 states, “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” In Acts 4 we have an example of the disciples doing just that. Pray to be strengthened in your boldness. To stop being complacent in the work of the Lord. While the answer to our prayer may not be as clear as the earthquake the early church received, we know the one who hears our prayers is the one who sent and sacrificed His Son for us, the one who loves us most.
The question is then raised: what does boldness in today’s world look like? In the early church, it was bold to believe in the name of Christ openly. In today’s world, though this is still true in some places and situations, it is not true for many of us. Walking into a church building, listening to lessons, and singing along is perhaps not true boldness. Boldness is a willingness to take risks, is it not? Let us learn to take risks. Maybe those are risks in friend groups—proclaiming our faith, inviting others to study, living Christ every day rather than relegating it to Sunday. Perhaps the risks we need to learn to take are in our church buildings—in the services you render publicly; in the relationships you build; in the thoughts you share, who knows who may need to hear them? Be bold with your siblings in the faith—ask for help where you’re struggling; lovingly show others their error, though always examining yourself, as Christ shows in Matthew 7:1-5.
Boldness is not blind confidence. It is knowing who your God is, that your Father is THE King. Boldness is having a love like His that wishes none to perish and acting on it. How will you be bold today?
By: Hannah Lowe