While Jesus lived, his disciples frequently demonstrated cowardice and confusion. After his resurrection, the story changed completely. Showing himself to be alive by many convincing signs, he appeared to the apostles for forty days and spoke with them about the kingdom of God. When they received the Holy Spirit, they became his witnesses in Jerusalem, in the nearby regions of Judea and Samaria, and even to the ends of the earth.
Filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, the apostles made many bold moves. They spoke truth to power and proclaimed Jesus Christ, even when arrested by government officials, attacked by mobs, and threatened with death. They lived in community, sharing everything and providing for the poor, and eventually laid down their lives, fulfilling the final command of their master to “love one another as I love you” (John 15:12).
Indeed, the words “bold,” “boldly,” or “boldness” appear no fewer than ten times in the Acts of the Apostles, a New Testament book written by Saint Luke to chronicle the growth of the Church for the benefit of future generations of believers. After Peter and John were arrested and warned not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, for example, they prayed and “were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).
We begin a new message series this Sunday that we are calling “Bold Moves.” For each of us, there are times in our lives when we face the hard choice of retiring into familiar corners or stepping out boldly. A job offer, marriage proposal, career change, college admission, divorce petition, aggressive treatment plan for an illness, and other significant life-altering events often force us to choose between taking the safe course or making a bold move.
To the extent we pay attention to our spiritual lives, the same choice awaits us. Will we be a slave to fear or a child of God (c.f. Galatians 4:7), who trusts enough in the providence of the Father to strike out boldly in new ways? Spiritual growth results from a series of difficult choices to enter into and maintain healthy spiritual relationships, to pray with confidence, to endure suffering courageously and wait for healing, to work on deepening our knowledge of the faith, and to commit to a radical love of the poor and the unchurched.
Genuine disciples of Christ do not allow fear to interfere with their decision to serve in ministry, give to the church and to the poor, get involved in small groups grow in their faith, practice prayer to get closer to God, or share their faith to bring others to the Lord. Instead, they rather boldly embrace the uncertainty of change, the pain of suffering, the risk of sharing, and the inconvenience of real commitment, in order to make bold moves on behalf of the Lord.
Follow the apostles this Easter season as they boldly proclaim Christ to a waiting world and then make some bold moves of your own.
Father Roger Gustafson