• Rev. Mark Tews

Continue Speaking Up

The Church isn’t confined to buildings; it’s all of us that gather together to worship God. We’re called to shine the love of Jesus into our community and seek opportunities to share God’s love. For many Christians, this calling often seems to be a frightening prospect. For an example of overcoming our fears and fulfilling our calling, there is no one better to look to than the Apostle Paul.

Paul was an instrumental person in the early history of the Church. He traveled over 10,000 miles in the course of about 30 years planting Christian churches along the way. He had difficulties getting the message out though – his missionary work was filled with problems. Despite that, God was always there and He had a plan for Paul. The same is true for us today. We may not understand what His plan is, but God has a plan for us too.

Paul had a lot of challenges during his journey. He didn’t have a travel agent or an employer taking care of the bills. He didn’t always know where he was going to sleep. He often found someone willing to let him stay with them and feed him while he was there. Paul was not treated very well. Many rejected what he was teaching. For example, the city of Corinth was known for their worship of Poseidon, Helios, and Aphrodite. Corinth was a city filled with nearly every vice, so people weren’t very interested in listening to Paul.

Paul wasn’t always welcome in Jewish circles because he was often seen as someone stirring up trouble by speaking against the temple faith. And he wasn’t trusted in many Christian circles because of his history as Saul, the zealous oppressor of Christians. Regardless, Paul was called to speak in Corinth and other cities where his message was not welcome. Sometimes he was afraid and he may have felt like quitting and going home. It would have been easy to give up, but God encouraged him: Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” (Acts 18:9–10).

God had a plan for Paul. He wanted him to deliver His message of hope. God also has a plan for us. He has called us to be witnesses where we are. Here in the United States, we are blessed with the right of free speech and the right of free expression of religion. We have the unique opportunity to freely talk to others about our faith and share the message of God’s love and how He redeemed us through Jesus Christ. God wants us to share His message too. We often take our rights in this country for granted. In other places, like Afghanistan, Christians have to hide underground. In Afghanistan there are about 48,000 mosques and not one Christian church building, because the culture doesn’t tolerate anything except the Muslim faith. In Afghanistan, anyone who abandons the Muslim faith is condemned to death. Imagine trying to be a missionary in a country like that. We need to keep them in our prayers.

Even though we are not called to such a dangerous mission field, we become afraid and reluctant to share God’s Word here at home. Do we fear rejection or being labeled intolerant? Well, the same message that was given to Paul applies to us. No matter what difficulties we face, we can trust that God will always be there. He already paid the ultimate price by sending His only Son into the world to die on a cross and rise to new life. There’s no reason to fear, because God’s love can overcome anything. He will never leave or forsake us. That’s the good news that everyone needs to hear.

So, what should we do? What path should we follow? Jesus gave us all a mission: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18–20). Jesus told us to spread His Word and Paul gave us an example of how to do that.

There are things that will help each of us strengthen our faith and lose the fear of sharing the Gospel. Regularly be in His Word. Daily hearing and/or reading the Bible can be a wonderful way to grow our faith. It allows us to get closer to God by learning more about His plan and seeing how much He really loves us. His Word gives us hope and strengthens our faith. We should also seek fellowship with other believers in church. This is a way to connect with each other and provide support when others are struggling. Paul wrote to the church in Galatia to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2). Worshipping with fellow Christians encourages one another to keep and build our faith by giving one another courage and strength.

Wherever we go, whatever we do, whomever we meet – we have opportunities to spread God’s love through our words and actions. Once you believe in Jesus, there’s no time that you are not a Christian. So, there can be no time that we are not missionaries! We live by example to those around us, and everything that we say and do shows others what Christians are like. Let your words and actions show that we love others like God loves us. Fearlessly and boldly show Jesus’ love through your life and reflect God’s grace.