Almost every Christian I have ever known, experiences some type of fear when it comes to telling others about Jesus. Either we are afraid that we won’t be able to say enough or we are afraid that we might say too much. We’re fearful that they will ask us questions that we can’t answer or we’re fearful that they will never speak to us again. Thoughts of a cold shoulder, confrontation, or even confusion all frighten us and cause us to clam up. How can we overcome our fears and be more courageous when it comes to sharing the gospel?
“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.” (Acts 4:29, 31)
Today’s passage is a part of a prayer, prayed by the early church, shortly after a time of confrontation with those who opposed the gospel. Peter and John had gone to the temple and along the way encountered a man begging for money. Peter healed the man and by the miracle caused a great commotion. A crowd quickly drew around them and recognizing that this was a divine appointment, Peter seized the moment and preached Jesus. Scripture tells us that over 5,000 people responded and were saved.
But the temple leaders did not like what Peter and John were doing and had the two disciples arrested. In effort to intimidate them, the leaders commanded Peter and John to never speak or teach in the name of Jesus again. We often criticize Peter for being impetuous, but perhaps we need a little bit more of his passion – “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” Now that’s some holy boldness!
When Peter and John returned to the church, they shared with them all that had happened. Perhaps some were enraged; perhaps others were frightened. I wonder if some began to say, “Maybe we shouldn’t be so public with our ministry. You know, we have families to take care of and we might offend those we’re trying to reach.” I’m not sure what was in their conversation, but I can tell what was contained in their prayer – “O Lord, . . . give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word.”
Are you fearful about sharing the gospel? If so, read Acts 4 and carefully consider how many in the early church overcame similar fears. Down through the years I have often prayed the prayer, “Lord, make me bold. Lord, make me bold.”