“The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men who had no special training. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13 NLT One translation uses the words ‘without fear’ in place of boldness. Another uses the word ‘confidence’ while another uses the word ‘constancy’. And yet another translation states ‘…they recognized them as companions of Jesus…’
There are so many components to this verse! I think this verse could easily serve as a daily goal and a lifelong ambition–to be recognized as ordinary, with a boldness for the Gospel because I’ve spent time with Jesus. I’m pretty sure nothing better could be said at my funeral and graveside.
So let’s talk about being ordinary, bold for the Gospel, and recognized as spending time with Jesus.
I think it’s so easy to forget that Jesus spent thirty of His thirty-three years living an ordinary, obscure life. There are sermons, songs, poems, stories, and art about His three, rather short years of ministry. There are even more sermons, songs, poems, stories, and art about His three hours on the Cross. And even more about His three days in the tomb. But the thirty years preceding? Not much to say, sing, write or represent in art.
He lived such an ordinary life that at one point in the Scriptures someone says, “Isn’t that…?” They really couldn’t even place Him definitively!
And as with all things God, there’s a reason we know this thirty-year timeline. Most of us will live ordinary lives. For a few, the ordinary will prepare us for something seemingly extraordinary and then we’ll most likely slip back into the ordinary. I like to call it the ‘Holy Ordinary.’
It’s in this holy ordinary our rough edges are smoothed, our hearts and minds are purified, our friendship with Jesus solidified, and our salvation worked out with fear and trembling. This will constitute the majority of our days and the length of our years. And if we don’t learn to live within this holy ordinary, there’s a possibility we’ll forego living in heaven. I realize that connect the dots thought process just escalated rather quickly, but so does life…and death.
I would like to think I’m bold for the Gospel but when I look around at what others do and say for the the Gospel, I’m like, “Ummm….” Shame on me! God did not call me to bold for the Gospel like anyone else except myself. My Gospel boldness looks way different than a single missionary, a parochial school teacher in the inner city (Is that even how you say that? I live in the country and try not to leave my house so my wording may not be a cool as I’d like to think it is), or a woman struggling with infertility explaining the Church’s teaching. In the same manner, my children’s boldness for the Gospel on the soccer field in the middle of the Bible Belt looks way different than a child growing up in a predominately Catholic area attending a private school–no less bold, just a different bold.
“After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.”
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago on my Instagram story that we all think a boldness for the Gospel involves international travel to unsanitary conditions with people who don’t understand our language. And for some it does. But for most of us–see the whole ‘Holy Ordinary’ above–for most of us it involves being kind and patient to the new, slow cashier at the grocery store, or the waitress picking up an extra set of tables, or the driver who wants to get in front of us in the school pick-up line.
This makes me think of the quote, “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” Friends, so much of our boldness for the Gospel in our everyday life is manifest in our actions, don’t miss the opportunity!
Let’s think of someone we know, even if only as an acquaintance, who we know or think we know spends time with Jesus. Why? What is it about them that makes us think they are in close friendship with Jesus? Is it their clothing? Their attitude, characteristics, or manner? I really want us to think hard on this one.
I’m pretty sure not a single one us is going to answer we can tell they spend time with Jesus because they have a fish on the back of their car or a rosary hanging from the rearview mirror. We probably won’t mention their Christian t-shirt, Rhinestone cross jewelry, ball cap or love for Chick fil A.
And if we’re relying on any of the above to show others we love Jesus, let this little thinking exercise remind us the externals aren’t cutting it!
When I think of being recognized as a Christian I think of someone who shows no partiality to one person over another. I think of someone who never has an unkind word to say of another person. I think of someone who smiles from the inside out. I think of someone who doesn’t allow life to shake them up or cause them to lose their peace.
More importantly, when I think of someone I consider to be in close friendship with Christ, I think of someone who wants others to know of the great love and mercy of Jesus. Someone who doesn’t want to keep Jesus and His Kingdom a secret or a place reserved for the exclusive. I think of someone who doesn’t condone, ignore, or accept sin. Accept the sinner yes, but only so far as to lead them to away from sin and into the arms of Jesus.
I’ll round back to where we started, I want to be known as an ordinary soul with a boldness for the Gospel who is recognized as spending time with Jesus. How about you?