Without hesitating I delivered a response that mixed certainty with doubt; my ambiguous response was entirely inconclusive. I wanted to be right, but I instinctively added a little caveat to give me an “out” in the likely case I was wrong. She didn’t immediately catch my doublespeak - maybe because we’ve all become so accustomed to receiving conflicting information, alternative facts, or just watered-down truths that it didn’t even catch her attention as not making sense.
Unfortunately, we can do this same thing and be just as ambiguous when we share the gospel. We may find that when the opportunity is presented to us to share God’s love, or a verse that the Lord has given us for someone, or even to lovingly rebuke a brother or sister in Christ, our message may get watered down in fear of offending someone or for not being politically correct. I recently saw someone in a t-shirt that read “Be Nice.” - Jesus; as if that were a commandment of His. Are we called to just “be nice?” Was Jesus just a “nice” guy? That’s not the Jesus I read about in the Bible. I read of a strong, bold Savior. Compassionate, yes. Forgiving, without a doubt. Loving, always. But not particularly nice or peaceful. He condemned. He denounced. He caused trouble. He disrupted the established order. Jesus states in Matthew 10:34, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.”
We see all throughout the gospels that Jesus spoke truth even when it was divisive and offensive. We should never settle for a watered down gospel to appease family, friends, or strangers. In this day and age the world doesn’t need to hear a diluted version of the truth. The world needs and really does crave to hear the truth, even when it’s not always comfortable for us to give or for them to hear.
To have an impact on this world, we, as Christians, are called to follow Jesus’ lead and speak and live out our faith with clarity - even when others may not agree. By speaking the truth we provide a path to the Light that the world so dearly needs and so infrequently hears. The gospel truth is so often watered down to fit the neutral parameters of the world that when the world really does need to hear the truth, comfort, and light that Jesus gives, it doesn’t get it and is left to continue searching through the things of this world to fill those voids and desires. If the world doesn’t hear the truth, it will continue to alter and redefine the perception of “truth” to fit the ever-changing needs of the current cultural desires.
Acts 4:31 tells us, “When the [apostles] had prayed ... they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.” We have access to that same Spirit to empower us to be bold in our faith. When God resides in us and works through us, His strength sustains us. We can be bold in our faith because Jesus modeled that for us and the Holy Spirit enables us to do so. Jesus never tried to talk his way around sensitive topics, make excuses for the truth, or give mixed messages. (He would have known if we had that pepper or not...) He also wasn’t a “nice” guy who was afraid of making enemies. He knew there was one truth and one way to the Father.
Be bold in your faith; pray for the strength and the perseverance needed. You don’t have to rely on your own abilities, the Lord will empower and embolden you. In fact, it’s better if we don’t rely on our own abilities, but turn to Him to guide us through those moments of weakness or uncertainty.