Don't be afraid! Speak out! Don't be silent!
“One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision and told him, ‘Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent!’“ (Acts 18:9)
There are over 300 verses in the Bible that specifically deal with fear. It’s a common problem for us. This sinful nature we have is a fearful one, but the Spirit of the Lord is not a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). When God is telling people to not be afraid it is usually when they are about to face death, perhaps before going into battle or preaching in hostile territory. We are still struggling with fear today, but we don’t usually face death. What scares us are awkward conversations, rejection, or maybe a little ridicule here or there. We are too afraid to cross the street and invite our neighbor to church.
Five days ago, Islamic terrorists in Sri Lanka used suicide bombs to kill over 250 people and injure more than 500 people who were at churches worshipping on Easter. It was a targeted attack of Christians on our most important holiday. According to opendoorsusa.org, there are 50 countries around the world where Christianity is illegal, and yet Christianity prevails. Our brothers and sisters in these countries face jail time and death any time they practice our faith. We fear an awkward conversation or situation and our brothers and sisters share the gospel in the face of death.
“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone wants to follow me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross, and follow me continuously.’” (Matthew 16:24)
If we can’t cross the street for Christ, it’s doubtful we’ll carry a cross for Him. Yet Jesus has already set the standard and told us what following Him will be like: denying ourselves every day and carrying our cross. Are we actually doing that? Chances are we’re probably living comfortably, surrounded by like-minded people. Denying ourselves might be a rare occasion, not a daily one. How often do you work to obey Jesus’ final command?
“‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (Mathew 28:19-20)
Peter obeyed almost immediately. About 10 days after Jesus ascended, the Holy Spirit had come upon the apostles and a large crowd gathered around them. Peter saw the opportunity and seized it. He wasn’t afraid of being outnumbered by the large crowd. The Holy Spirit had just come upon him and he spoke boldly to the crowd, obeying exactly what Jesus had commanded.
“Peter replied, ‘Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’” (Acts 2:38)
And what happened as a result of Peter speaking up, not being afraid, and relying on the power and strength of the Holy Spirit?
“So those who welcomed his message were baptized. That day about 3,000 people were added to their number.” (Acts 2:41)
When we obey God’s commands, it proves our love for Him (1 John 5:3). So what might happen if you obeyed Christ’s last command to go and make disciples, if you answered God’s call to not be afraid, to speak out and to not be silent? The only way you’ll find out is to do it! Don’t let fear of awkwardness stop you from obeying Christ. Don’t be afraid! Speak out! Don’t be silent!
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.