I learned in Philippians today that God desires us to be "much more bold to speak the word without fear" (1:14). I know that seems not worth saying, in a sense. What Christian would go on record as disagreeing with those words from Scripture? And yet I find that in practice not many of us are bold, so I would like to address this gap between our theology and our reality.
The standards of Christian people are sometimes unconsciously at variance with the standards of the Christian Bible. Not explicitly, but in practice. We have a hundred ways of preferring the traditions of man above the traditions of God, as Jesus pointed out. So while we sing paeans to biblical "boldness," we adhere to rules of social engagement that dictate to us when and where and under what circumstances and in what form we should speak out about the gospel.
And when we do, we tend to blunt the edges of the message, to tailor it to our audience. If the listener is an intellectual or a businessman sitting near us on an airplane, we may talk about our "ministry," or about being "Baptist" or "Presbyterian," or about being a student at seminary, rather than talking about Christ. This is not the kind of talk that got Paul into a Philippian jail. It is the "much more bold to speak the word without fear" that he had in mind. He thought we should be as willing to say, "I have put my trust in Jesus Christ" to the brown suit in seat 14C as we are to say it to the homeless person. But we tend to show partiality.
As for Paul, he said, ". . . it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body . . ." (1:20).
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