Boldness is a good thing. As Christians, the Scriptures tell us boldness is a hallmark of the righteous and those who put their hope and trust in God. This stands to reason.
As Paul writes to the church in Rome, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
God is for us. And as we familiarize ourselves with his promises, believing that God is faithful and just and loves us, we grow bolder.
We grow more bold, not less as we see our faith tested and hold fast to the good news of Jesus Christ. This we do despite swimming upstream in a world where Jesus instructed, in Matthew 7:13-14,
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
What kind of life was Jesus talking about? He was not saying we could have our best life now. On the contrary, the life Jesus came to give us is everlasting, eternal. And that life will be glorious, inhabiting bodies which do not get sick or break down in a place with no more sin, death, or dying. In that life we will know nothing but peace and goodness, and have pure fellowship with our Maker and one another.
Yet those who enjoy eternity in this way will be in the minority, according to Jesus. Not only is not everyone heaven-bound, but most people are not headed in that direction.
The Gospel Emboldens
I saw a movie some months ago called The Edge of Tomorrow. Starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, the film envisions a future in which the world’s military forces must stave off a relentless invasion of hostile aliens trying to eradicate humanity and consume the planet. Through some strange turn of events, Major William Cage, the film’s main character played by Tom Cruise, ends up trapped in a time loop reliving the day of a major battle repeatedly. He dies each day only to be brought back to life again to fight and die again until he can figure out how to break the cycle.
As this main character becomes familiar with dying and coming back to life again every day, the whole process becomes comically routine. Rolling his eyes, he is quick to resign himself to his fate each time a misstep results in his untimely demise. He knows he will live again, and he grows more bold in that knowledge.
Yet where that fictional hero must strive to figure out how to defeat invading alien forces in order to save the planet and free himself from this endlessly repeating cycle, we Christians have a far better and more secure hope. Where sin and death threatened us, Christ has already conquered. And when he promises everlasting life, we know that eternity for us will not be an endless cycle of dying fighting to be reborn again every day.
Yet even when we do die in this body, our hope is that the same power which raised Jesus from the dead has been promised to raise us also with him on the last day. How can that hope not give us boldness in this life?
Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us.
It was this kind of boldness which I believe animated Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They answered with boldness King Nebuchadnezzar’s threat of agonizing deaths in a fiery furnace if they refused to bow and worship the golden statue of him.
“O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
That is a very bold thing to say. Yet that is the very thing we should expect from those who fear, love, and trust God above all else.
Again, Paul writes to the Romans just a little further on from what I quoted earlier:
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The list Paul gives is comprehensive and all-encompassing. The three young Hebrew men in Babylonian captivity apparently believed fiery furnaces were included in that list.
What possible exceptions to this do we dread in the dark hours of the morning? Indeed, nothing can separate us.
Boldness is not arrogance.
Let it not be said of us as Christians that we are arrogant and rude. Yet the world may mistake our boldness for foolishness when we appear weak, or arrogance when we appear strong.
Do we ourselves mistake boldness for arrogance? The extravagant love and grace of God should not make us arrogant. It should humble us that we were sinners bent on destruction except for Christ taking the punishment for our sins. And we are commanded to esteem others as more important than ourselves. We are commanded to love one another in humility.
Yet this same love and grace of God should also make us confident. And it is not only possible to be confident and humble, it is needful.
Christ is our great example. He was humble in submitting himself to suffering and death on a cross for the Father’s glory and our salvation. Yet he was also bold! We miss a critical half of the picture if we only read humility in the gospel accounts of his ministry.
As Proverbs 28:1 says,
“The wicked flee when no one pursues,
but the righteous are bold as a lion.”
I only hope my loved ones can put that on my tombstone someday. In the meantime, I will try to live worthy of such an honor, and I am comforted with the Scriptures. As Paul writes to the church at Corinth:
“Since we have such a hope, we are very bold…”
Paul also writes to Timothy.
“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”