Friday, February 10, 2012

What does it mean to be bold?

What does it mean to be bold?  That is a question that I had to ask myself today when I felt so strongly that I had to defend why Christians do and say the things they do.  My Facebook today was inundated with status updates talking about the beliefs of Christians being superbly cruel and our God being an imaginary poof that shouldn't have bearing on our lives or country.   This is what I wrote, for reference:

"I am surprised at just how many status updates today are expressing anger toward the Christians today. I want to try and explain why so many of us try to tell the world what the Lord wants from us and why we are so passionate about things like abortion, even though it doesn't always come out the right way. Please read this all before commenting.
We believe with every fiber of our beings that there is One God who made us and this world and made us in a certain way and requires a level of obedience to have a relationship with Him. His main desire is to never be apart from us, so he desires that all would have faith in Christ as their God and Savior who died on the cross to cover all our sins and was resurrected. If you have faith in Him, and let Christ pay for your sins,making you sinless in death, you will live in eternity with Him when you die. Those that do not accept Christ as their savior cannot enter Heaven because he cannot be around sin as Heaven and God are perfect.
How terrible of a people would we be if we didn't desire that all people would have that peace and joy for eternity. We don't want you to have the pain of a life away from God. So you betcha, we'll tell you about Him and we will protect the things He wants us to protect, like human life which He made very clear starts at conception. Just like as a mother you tell your child not to touch a stove because it will hurt, even if your child thinks it will be fun, out Lord has told us the things that will hurt us not only in this life but the next. Because I love you all I could never sit on my hands and watch you touch a stove because I don't want to hurt your feelings. I will tell you, the rest is up to you. Please don't be angry when Christians assert themselves into politics or other things that can hinder salvation. We're all on the same team, all children of God and he loves every human that has or will ever live. We would be pretty rotten people if we really believed all of this and never tried to share His love and promises with all our brothers and sisters in the world. Sometimes it comes out hateful, and that is our flesh and our humanity and not to glorify God. For that, of course I am sorry. I'm sure I've done that, too. But if we are bible-believers we cannot sit here and say, "hey, do whatever you want to anyone you want in anyway you want. I don't care if you never know the Lord." That would be much more cruel."
 So... I was using my phone and apparently don't proof ready. let's just get that out of the way :). It's hard to tell context and tone by text, but I intended this in my usual upbeat, trying to be loving, cadence.   You do have to expect that when you say the "C" word it will bring about some strong emotions.  We are ingrained with the desire to seek Him, and I think hearing about our beliefs pricks something in that area of ourselves and it makes people who don't want to know Him angry.  I had a few people do the usual, "so, then, I go to hell if I don't believe in your God", or "what about if someone is raped" (you can see my position on the latter one here ).  Disagreeing, yet very civil, and they are still my friends, even though they greatly disagree with me.  For my brother, though, it was too much.  He defriended me!  Now-a-days that's the equivlent of disowning someone or a divorce.  Talk about hurtful!  So it made me think, was I too bold? Should I hear the slander against Christ and stay away from the keyboard so as not to risk causing offence?  Of course I immediately consulted a strong friend via text and felt so reassured to just follow where I'm led in words and actions.  So I consulted the Word, and this is what I came across (I'll go through it bit-by-bit):

2 Corinthians 10

New King James Version (NKJV)

The Spiritual War

10 Now I, Paul, myself am pleading with you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ—who in presence am lowly among you, but being absent am bold toward you. 2 But I beg you that when I am present I may not be bold with that confidence by which I intend to be bold against some, who think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. 3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, 6 and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled.

 Well, I know I am guilty of v. 1!  I tend to be much more bold with written word than in person.  That can really be confused with being hypocritical or, in my case, fearful.  Totally true for me!  Saying something to someone's face about something so bold as our Savior's message can be a bit scary.  The world does not like to hear it.  But, "boldness" and "lowliness" can absolutely exist in the same person.  Christ was bold and yet a servant.  Never did he stand on the holier-than-thou stool, even though he truly could have!  He is the Holy of Holies, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Prince of Peace! When we come under the cleansing blood of Christ, we too can take His attributes and desire towards it.  Plus, it is really easy to sound severe when talking of the things of Christ.  He really is so black and white and the Word is fact, so it can come roll off our tongue as harsh and too blunt if we let it and forget that we are lowly and above no one.

And, O our flesh! (v. 3).  As Christians we still walk in the flesh, battling it and our own desires that are apart from His.  When it says "we do not war according to the flesh" I was a bit stuck.  Does war according to the flesh mean live life according to the world or speak according to the world?  I consulted the for help:

"b. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal: When Paul battled in his wars, his weapons were not material, but spiritual, suited for spiritual war.
i. The carnal weapons Paul refuses were not material weapons like swords and spears. The carnal weapons he renounced were the manipulative and deceitful ways his opponents used. Paul would not defend his apostolic credentials with the carnal weapons others might use.
ii. In Ephesians 6, Paul lists the kind of spiritual weapons he did use: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of the gospel, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit. To rely on these weapons took faith in God instead of carnal methods. But truly, these weapons are mighty in God for pulling down strongholds!"

Oh!  Manipulation and deceit.  Those are methods that are so easy to use and can be so destructive to whatever cause you are standing for or words you are standing behind.  But when we stand behind the weapons God gave us and stand on His truth and don't waiver in our faith who could defeat us?

I love v.5.  That's what I felt like I was doing today, but didn't know if I was wrong.  There are so many things that exalt themselves against the knowledge of God, saying they know more or better than God or deny His existance all together. But we are called to bring all our thoughts to Christ in boedience of Him and His Word.  Through that we will win, because in the end of it all God wins. Period.

Blue Letter Bible also said the strongholds being stated here "in this context are wrong thoughts and perceptions, contradicting the true knowledge of God and the nature of God".  That means, we do need to be bold!  We need to be trying to being down these strondholds that tear apart people's lives and mean to harm our Lord.

i. Many commentators think the phrase to punish all disobedience is taken from the Roman military court. Paul is saying, “We are all soldiers together in this battle, and I am ready to bring in some discipline among these troops.”

Ahhhh.  So are we to only be bold to our believing brothers and sisters?  To me, those who have chosen to follow Christ must adhear to a higher standard; God's standard.  All of us are much more accountable to our actions among one another than non-believers.  So then, should we stand by when a non-believer ridicules God?  Hmmm. 

Reality of Paul’s Authority

7 Do you look at things according to the outward appearance? If anyone is convinced in himself that he is Christ’s, let him again consider this in himself, that just as he is Christ’s, even so we are Christ’s.[a] 8 For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us[b] for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed— 9 lest I seem to terrify you by letters. 10 “For his letters,” they say, “are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” 11 Let such a person consider this, that what we are in word by letters when we are absent, such we will also be in deed when we are present.

V.8 (b)-  YES!!  This  is why we are called to be bold.  Not for the destruction of people or lives, but for the edification (lifting up) of our body!  This is not to make people feel "bad" or "wrog", but to make us stronger and unified as a whole so others can see our God and rejoice in it!

While searching boldness, I found this quote from Answers in Genesis

As Christians, we need to have the utmost integrity in all areas and be careful not to be a stumbling block to a fellow Christian. We should make every effort to live at peace with others (Romans 12:18). This does not mean, however, we will never offend a fellow Christian if, for example, a rebuke is needed. Even though we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), we might still offend. We must live by the truth of God's Word, and those people who are living contrary to the truth are often offended. Non-Christians may be offended as well. After all, the message of the gospel declares that they are sinners who need to repent and put their faith in Jesus Christ. In a sense, we need to offend unbelievers in order to witness to them!
Although we cannot keep people from getting offended, we should make sure that it is the truth that offends rather than our attitude, actions, or approach. We must follow biblical principles in all areas. At times, offending is wrong, and at other times, it is necessary. As we spread the truth of God's Word, we should do so in love, humility, and boldness, making sure we are living by the truth.
There we go.  If we are letting it be The Truth that is offensive or" too bold", and not a hateful approach or better-than-you or sour attitude than that is exactly what we should do.  We are called to spread the word of our Christ so that they too may be saved.  So long as we share the Word and the Truth with love and humility, though some may be offended, others will be saved and our Lord will be proud. 


1 comment:

  1. I understand where you are coming from completely. I have struggled with this whole facebook and opinions being voiced and all too. As you said, in writing it is hard to understand sentiment. These deep and controversial subjects usually warrant a conversation not just a statement. In the end, I try to ask myself, "is this a saving truth." If the answer is yes, then by all means be bold. If it is not a saving truth and it is more of a controversial discussion then it should probably be that. I totally understand your struggle, but it's really hard to get a real true sentiment across with facebook. I'm sure this doesn't help at all haha but at least you know you are not alone in wondering what bold looks like.