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Calling All Cowards

I believe that we’re prone to struggle with a sinful cowardice when it comes to sharing our faith in Jesus Christ. From inviting someone to church, Community Group, to actually sharing our faith in Jesus with family, friends, classmates, or coworkers, most of us struggle.

Why Do We Struggle?

There are many reasons why this is the case, but I believe it typically boils down to one issue: fear of man, which is a form of idolatry. When we fear people more than we fear God, our behavior will be motivated by what others think and say about us, not the glory and enjoyment of God.

The fear of man works out itself out in our lives in a variety of ways. According to biblical counselor Ed Welch, the fear of man,

Includes being afraid of someone, but it extends to holding someone in awe, being controlled or mastered by people, worshiping other people, putting your trust in people, or needing people. . . . The fear of man can be summarized this way: we replace God with people. Instead of a biblically guided fear of the Lord, we fear others. . . . When we are in our teens, it is called “peer pressure.” When we are older, it is called “people-pleasing.” Recently, it has been called “codependency.”

When we fear man more than we do God, we become paralyzed when it comes to being identified with Jesus and sharing our faith in him.

When this happens, we have allowed someone other than Jesus to sit upon the throne over our life. We want to please and appease them, which means we end up worshiping them instead of Jesus. This is idolatry.

Regardless of how deep your struggles are with cowardice, God hasn’t left us on our own. He didn’t even give us a Twelve-Step program to overcome our fears. No. He did something much deeper and permanent than that: he promised to transform us into courageous witnesses for Jesus from the inside out.

How Does God Transform Us?

There are many things that I would like to share at this point, but I would like to share with you what I believe are the most important when it comes to God transforming us from cowardly to courageous witnesses for Jesus: the power of the Holy Spirit.

Since sin is not merely doing bad things but an even deeper problem of building our identity on someone or something other than God alone, the solution to such idolatry is not to change our behavior but to have a complete reorientation of our nature at the deepest level of our being, what Jesus called being “born again.”

To be born again is to be regenerated, which includes what God has done for us at the cross of Jesus and in us by the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit applies what Jesus did for us on the cross to our lives.

During the Religion Saves series, I laid out ten soul-transforming, life-changing, and eternity-altering occurrences of new birth elsewhere. Today, I would like to focus on the indwelling presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Becoming a courageous witness is not based upon our natural strength or abilities, but rather a supernatural strength provided by the Holy Spirit.

The Bible often speaks of our being united with Christ by his resurrection and enjoying the same powerful Holy Spirit that raised him from death. As the power of Jesus’ resurrection works itself out in our life, we grow in holiness, learning to live in victory over sin, and are empowered to be witnesses. Through faith in Jesus we are forgiven of our sin, empowered by the Holy Spirit to put sin to death, and empowered to be courageous witnesses.

The Spirit indwelling us is not cowardly or timid, “but of power and love and self-control.” So a life lived courageously for Jesus is a mark of the Spirit living within us.

How then do we live and experience the courage supplied by the Holy Spirit?

Trust in the Promise of God

Within your circle of influence you have family, friends, classmates, coworkers, and acquaintances that are in need of hearing about Jesus. Step outside of your comfort zone, acknowledge your cowardice, believe the truth that God wants to save people, and trust the promise of God that you will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to witness for Jesus.

How else will you know that God’s promise to empower you as a witness is true unless you actually trust him to do so by placing yourself in a position to talk about Jesus?

Pray for Courage

In spite of the actual or perceived threats that you may face when sharing Jesus, pray as the early church once prayed, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

What we see in response to their request is that “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” Even though the members of this group would have been baptized and indwelt by the Holy Spirit at the point of their conversion, this passage indicates that they experienced a subsequent filling of the Holy Spirit who empowered them to courageously witness for Jesus. Consider Peter for a moment.

Prior to making this prayerful petition, Peter (who was among the group) had already been “filled with the Holy Spirit” at Pentecost and just moments before he was “filled with the Holy Spirit” prior to speaking before the Sanhedrin.

We also see the filling of the Holy Spirit leading to courageous witnessing for Jesus when people were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in other tongues, which means they boldly spoke in languages previously unknown to them to people from other nations. Talk about needing courage.

What this means for us is that we too can experience subsequent fillings of the Holy Spirit who will supernaturally empower us to be courageous witnesses for Jesus, in spite of our natural cowardice.

So my prayer for you is to be filled with the Spirit and speak the word of God with boldness as the members of the early church once did.

A Final Word

There is an urgent need for us to rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to tell others about Jesus. There is a day and time that Jesus will return to judge the world.

Even though we have a propensity to lean towards cowardice when it comes to being identified with Jesus or telling others about him, there is forgiveness when we have failed and power to live courageously for him.

So regardless of how you have denied Jesus with your deeds and words, he is faithful to forgive you and restore you to a vibrant relationship with him as he did Peter. Whether you’ve failed to be identified with Jesus while your friends were mocking him and Christians, or you’ve walked away from him and the church for many years, he is faithful to forgive you of your sins and empower you with the Holy Spirit to live courageously for his glory.

I challenge you this Easter season to step outside of your comfort zone, share Jesus with those inside of your circle of influence, and even invite them to your Community Group or a Sunday service.

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