“Those who have been with Jesus, who sit at his feet as humble disciples, are transformed by his love and radiate that love to others.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 21, 2022
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13, ESV
What makes you bold? When you feel confident and self-assured, what is the source of your optimism? Or, to flip the question on its head, when you lack boldness and faith, what is the cause of your doubt and indecision?
In most areas of our lives, we grow in confidence based upon our training, education, and experience. If you were to ask me to build a house, my complete lack of training and inability to operate basic power tools would keep me from even attempting such a project, and should cause you to second guess your discernment skills! Similarly, we spend much of our lives looking for, and trying to become, competent professionals – mechanics, doctors, financial planners, developers, and attorneys – people who trust others and are ourselves trustworthy based on a long list of mutually acceptable skills and experiences.
Now, how then does this apply to the life of faith and one’s journey of discipleship? In looking at Acts 4, it’s good to remember that “professional Christians” have been around for a long time! The expectation then, and now, was someone’s ability to speak and lead with boldness in areas of faith was directly tied to the number of letters after their name. The immediate scandal around Peter and John was that they spoke with boldness yet “were uneducated, common men” (Acts 4:13).
Of course, there is wisdom in this expectation and we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Just as you expect your surgeon to have years of training before they operate on you, Christian leaders must submit themselves to the study of Scripture and the Christian faith before presuming to tell others authoritatively how they should live or what our faith professes. However, and this is key, we all too often assume that a theological degree naturally leads to a lived encounter with the living God. Sadly, this is rarely the case.
In 2 Timothy 3:5, Paul reminds us that there is a form of godliness that denies its power. In the story of Acts 4, it was not Peter and John’s education or positions of leadership that powered their transformative ministry. It was their encounter of the living Christ. In a similar way, our ability to live a bold life for Christ is first and foremost linked to our ability to abide in him and be transformed by his love. Knowledge is important, but love is eternal. Education separated from illumination is a path to self-reliance, arrogance, and superiority. Yet those who have been with Jesus, who sit at his feet as humble disciples, are transformed by his love and radiate that love to others.
And so, if you are searching for boldness or confidence in your faith or Christian leadership, may others say only one thing of you: “They have been with Jesus.”
Father, keep us close to Christ and transform us daily by his love. Amen.
Have you misplaced your source of boldness? Is your identity and sense of self rooted in anything or anyone other than the living presence of Christ?
Mark 9:35; John 10:28-30; 1 John 4:9
Audrey Assad: How Can I Keep From Singing?
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