Points to Ponder: On Our Way to Holy Boldness
Points to Ponder
On Our Way to Holy Boldness
by Pastor Dennis Whitmore
A little over four years ago I had a one-on-one meeting with our bishop, Felton May. We discussed the sanctity of life, the need for changes in our annual conference, and our mutual desire to serve God faithfully. He is an advocate of "Holy Boldness," which he bases on Acts 4:29-31, a prayer of the early apostles who were facing persecution:
"'Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.' And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness."
Do we really believe that? I sometimes wonder if Christians (of all denominations) just read the Bible as if it's a collection of neat little stories and fairy tales. As I read the Bible I believe that these things happened, as recorded, and I believe that God still makes these things happen today. There would be no point in my being a Christian, let alone a pastor, if these things were not true. What would be the point? If I did not believe in Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and if I did not believe that His Spirit empowers us (His Body, the church) to do whatever He's calling us to do, I would go get a "real job" and just join a service club somewhere.
I left the bishop's office encouraged. Here is a leader who looks at welfare cuts, government ineptness and coldness toward people, and, though he protests the decisions with which he disagrees, he says God can change this. Holy Boldness is something I have always believed in before Bishop May made it a theme. It basically means that with God all things are possible. We, as the people of God, look at a broken society, a broken neighborhood, or a broken home and we run, NOT to the government, but to Jesus. Some churches have forgotten that He is the Messiah, the Savior, not the government. The government is merely a tool of God's to "punish evildoers and praise those who do good" (I Peter 2:14).
It's good to know that Bishop May actually believes in the power of the Holy Spirit and the ability of the church, in the name of Christ, to effect positive change in impossible situations. Recall Luke's version of the feeding of the 5000. The twelve apostles had just returned from doing all sorts of miracles, healings, and conversions. They went out as Jesus had instructed, without provisions. He said that all that they would need would be provided as they went (Luke 9:2-4).
Upon return, to tell Jesus of all they had done (Luke 9:10-17), 5000 men plus women and children came to them. Imagine the broken bodies, the various skin diseases and deformities these people had. And Jesus and his men ministered healing to their bodies and souls. But after all of these miracles and healings and conversions (over 5000 in a day), the twelve apostles wanted to shut down because the hour was late and there were no Food Lions, 7-11 stores, or a Park-n-Dine anywhere nearby. Now stop and think: If leprosy, deformed bones, blind eyes, and all kinds of other ailments were being healed and the empty, sad looks of a poor multitude was changed to fullness and joy, why is a picnic for 5000 such a big deal? In the minds of people, however (even God's people), it is a big deal. Faith is a risk.
But Jesus called them to take that risk. "You feed them," he said. And after the standard list of "We can't do it and here's why" was given to Him, He simply told them how to divide the work up, blessed the seemingly limited supply, and fed them.
I cite all of this because the day I came back from Bishop May's office, with the "Holy Boldness" theme running through my mind, I came across a letter from another bishop from a different denomination, which was an amazing contrast to what I had just heard that morning. He lamented over the government's cuts in welfare and the dangers to the poor. He went on to complain that the government expected too much from the churches. He said that there seems to be a lack of awareness of "just how small we are." It sounds almost like: "We only have five loaves and two fishes." But Jesus, in effect, told his disciples, "You are not aware of just how BIG I am."
It is my hope and my desire as a pastor to live and lead according to this reality. Some "more experienced" pastors and theologians have told me this is unrealistic and that I'm simply idealistic. Well, that's good to know. Because if we did only the realistic and the achievable things, we wouldn't need Jesus much for anything, now would we?
The pioneer missionary to China, Hudson Taylor said it well: "Commonly there are three stages in work for God: impossible, difficult, done!" Remember that as our faith grows, so grows our responsibility to stand on it and to spread it around.
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org and is downloaded for your reading pleasure. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit any material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public domain Web site and encourage all readers to visit this site to enjoy similar material.