“How is the Church like the mighty Mackenzie River? They are both frozen at the mouth.” This week we have been thinking about the boldness of our spoken witness, as a part of our exploration of the Rule of Life, found on page 555 of the Book of Common Prayer. In the course of discussions I realized that I come from an entirely different background than others in our fellowship. While many wrestle with idea of thawing enough to speak. I am on a continuing journey to find a new definition for boldness.
One of my earliest examples of ‘bold witness’ was a gentleman who was the ultimate in ‘shoe horn’ evangelism. He could squeeze the Gospel into any conversation. I remember entering an elevator with him. There was another fellow on there so my friend asked what he did. When he replied “Insurance” my friend asked “Do you sell fire insurance?” To which this poor soul agreed. My friend then proceeded to tell him about how Jesus who was the greatest fire insurance as He could save him from the fires of hell. I do not remember anyone ever responding to this shoe horn style but I was impressed with the ‘boldness’.
After some time (too long!) I began to discern a difference between boldness and rudeness. To find a gracious way and to really care for people seems to be a much more Christian response.
Many though are not backing away from being crude in their boldness but are trying to nudge away from silence. When the topic arises it is almost inevitable that someone will cite St Francis saying “Go everywhere preaching the Gospel and if necessary use words.” I have several problems with this. First I defy anyone to show me that Francis actually said this. I have searched and not found a reliable source for such a quote. As founder of a “Preaching Order” such a thought was not to be entertained. Gracious and bold witness were markers of his ministry. Second it is impossible to witness to God without words. Your acts of kindness will redound to your glory unless people know you are serving the Lord.
I heartily agree that loving activity is vital to a bold witness. These days I don’t need a shoe horn to squeeze the Gospel into conversation. I get into conversation in the midst of my activity for God or I get into conversation about what I am doing or what excites me. Life is rife with these natural opportunities. The goodness of the Good News creates the contrast or boldness when shared this way.
So I encourage my friends to live for Jesus serving others and being prepared to simply share the Good News which excites you to such activity.