When you have the hope for everyone and then are chained for sharing that hope – most of us would probably quiet down a bit.
Not so with Paul.
We get a glimpse into his character through the second of two letters he wrote to the church in Corinth. He writes to them of the promise God made that our sins have been forgiven because Jesus gave His life for us on the cross. Paul’s boldness came from that belief in God’s promise that Jesus had forgiven him for fighting against God Himself as he persecuted the early church. Paul’s whole life existed around that declaration of God’s love. How often we read of his thankfulness to God for having mercy on him and bringing him into God’s family. Our lives revolve around the same, does it not? God gathered up all of our sins, every single one of them, and put them on His Son when He was on the cross. Our hope is in His promise that we will spend eternity with Him and that is why Paul is so bold and why we can be so bold.
Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. – 2 Corinthians 3:12
The promise of the Spirit is in the resurrected life of Christ and brings us into the fulfilled promise of God. Our hope is in the resurrection.
Therefore boldness does not mean insensitive, brash, rude or aggressive – it means, speaking up, giving hope, caring, loving and action.
As Paul continues to share the good news that put him in chains to those who would listen – even though they did not believe right away – they kept coming back because of the message of hope. It was clear, from OT passages of scripture, that the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus pointed to Him as their Messiah.
I wondered why Paul had to go to Rome in the first place. Part of Paul’s boldness came in knowing the will of God and the courage it would take to follow Him when the moments came with hard decisions.
Paul knew as much about the OT as any religious teacher of his time. The fact that he missed the Messiah in all of those passages made him more determined that others would not. Everything hinged on one act in particular – the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
He lived there two whole years at his own expense and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance. – Acts 28:30-31
Hard to imagine the apostle Paul being afraid, but one night God took the time to come to him, through a vision, and encourage him not to be afraid. He had just had an altercation with the Jewish people and had declared that he was leaving them and going to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. There must have been something there that we are kept from because God had to take the time to build up Paul and ensure that he stayed right where he was and continue to do the mission he was called to do. Fear is not a stranger to any of us. Our encouragement has to be that we all fear, even Paul, and let’s continue to reach out to those who have never heard of God’s message of hope and redemption, confident that we walk with God as we do.
It does not mean we have to go on a conversion quest – but it does matter that we firm up our understanding of what our mission is and that we are doing it at the best of our ability, trusting God to move through us as we do. It is scary to tell a co-worker about Jesus, we will face persecution of all kinds, people will not like us or accept us — but all that is OK when we are reminded that God knows what we are facing. He also happens to know the heart of the person we are sharing the gospel with. Regardless of their motives – God will come to us and encourage us through it all. We can hope in Him as we give knowing full well that we will be re-energized and refreshed.
One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” – Acts 18:9-10
Tenth Avenue North – Afraid