In the film God’s Not Dead, a young man named Will stands up for the existence of God in his philosophy class, giving three 20-minute presentations explaining evidence for the presence of the Creator. He faces some fear, but he’s unwavering in his commitment to preach the truth. Watch the trailer here if you haven’t seen it.
Will expresses a boldness that not many of us, I feel, would show easily. He faces obstacles: a stubborn teacher, a classroom full of students who don’t believe as he does, a girlfriend who doesn’t want him to go against the grain, overwhelming academic disapproval.
The Bible has an answer for how we should handle obstacles like that. Paul offers it to us in 1 Thessalonians 2:2,
But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.
Paul and his crew had boldness in God to “declare the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict.” As any study Bible would tell you, Paul and the disciples faced constant persecution of their physical bodies, as well as mockery and spite from an unbelieving world. He writes that they “had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi,” and the Bible, Acts specifically, records that Philippi was not the only place they suffered this treatment.
I often get scared to speak the truth in the middle of “persecution.” But these guys suffered much greater than I ever have and probably ever will, and they still preached the truth. They went to work even when their friends were being killed. Why can’t we do the same? Fear, of course. But the Spirit can give us boldness to be a witness for our God, to declare the gospel, the good news.
We can speak the gospel in a number of ways: straight up gospel-sharing, bits of truth in conversation, in classroom discussion, anywhere. But often we lack boldness. We need to go to God for the boldness that we lack. I cannot sit here and say, “I can’t be bold.” That’s a lie. Paul and his crew faced death, yet they stayed bold.
I think part of that came from their perspective. Verse 4 of the same chapter says:
but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.
They had the perspective that they were speaking to please their Lord, the one who saved them, the one who will test their hearts. Man does not have the final say on our eternity like God does. Are we going to live to please Him? A lot easier said than done. We fear what people think about us. But our purpose to serve God. I encourage you, and tell myself, to keep that in mind.
I pray that all of you who might read this might grow to have the same kind of boldness that Paul and his crew had. I pray that I would have it. Let’s live to be bold, going to God every day for this boldness. We’re called to that life.