I have a fear for new believers or younger Christians who have experienced the saving work of Christ on their lives and are now looking for models of how to behave as a Christian. These new Christians are sincere and dedicated and they want a behavior to match their bold belief and enthusiasm.
The problem is that the most outspoken and in your face believers they probably see in their churches, on TV, or on Social Media are highly into politics, or are pushy and legalistic when it comes to “Christian” cultural touchstones like homeschooling, parenting, and the latest theological debate.
So, these new believers, in a quest to be bold and to show off their new found excitement, join these bold examples not knowing that this is “fool’s bold.” The boldness demonstrated by the most vocal Christian on your Facebook feed or the most celebrated family in your church does not often match the boldness talked about in scripture or the most important characteristics of a community of believers in the early church.
Just a simple search for the words bold, boldness, or boldly in the New Testament comes up with references to speaking and declaring the Good News and the Kingdom of God. The apostles were bold in their declaration of Christ and his saving work. They talked of Jesus and what he has done and what he is still doing and what he will do. That was the model of boldness among the early believers – their making known the message of the Gospel.
Also instructive is to look at the prayers that Paul has for the churches he is writing to. He does not pray for their political voice, their dedication to causes, or their correctness in apologetics. Instead, he prays like this:
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,[e] 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.Colossians 1:9-14
In another letter, Paul praises a church because of their imitation of the Lord Jesus and for being messengers of the faith to the point that they were listed as “models for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.”
A bold church and bold Christians are those that are full of people Growing Up, discovering new things about God, practicing thankfulness and joy, serving others, demonstrating patience, celebrating God’s mercy, and making Christ (not a poor substitute for the Good News) known.
If you are longing for a deeper commitment and feel compelled to take on a more intense version of your Christianity, take heart, you do not have to fit some characterized and stereotyped version of an American Christian who is full of false righteousness, loud mouthed political takes, and Christian cultural fads that are more hype than substance. You can simply and humbly dedicate yourself to imitating Christ, loving him, serving him, generating the Fruits of the Spirit, and gently telling others of what Christ has done for you.
This is biblical boldness. The kind of boldness that may not get you much attention or followers but will honor God and spread his Kingdom.