But don’t be afraid of them, son of man, and don’t be afraid of anything they say. Don’t be afraid when living among them is like stepping on thorns or finding scorpions in your bed. Don’t be afraid of their mean words or their hard looks…Your job is to speak to them. Whether they listen is not your concern…Ezekiel 2:3-7 MSG
I was recently asked to speak about boldness. My initial response was to cower in fear and hide. It is very hard to accomplish, or even try anything when we lack boldness to act. I felt that I was by no means someone who had the skills, equipment or time to fabricate anything seemingly related to confidence. This feeling led me to think about past experiences. Both succeeding and failing at being bold, I came to the conclusion that it all revolved around one thing. For me, my boldness is directly affected by my freedom to act. I speak about boldness to speak in front of people, pray for sick, carpool, brave the ever growing mountain of dishes, give word of knowledge, and get up in the morning. You know, every-day stuff. Unfortunately my freedom is mostly based on how free I feel at any given moment. If I feel unworthy and undeserving, I most definitely will not act on what God is saying. The fear of failing and looking stupid has hindered me many times. The need for significance in a conversation and the need for affirmation in a crowd have become my own brand of mental self-mutilation. Because, we all know we feel more deserving once we have suffered a bit. I became an abuser of my own thoughts, the lasher of my own back, the needle that drove every splinter in deeper. I thought I was being sacrificial. I thought it would gain me notoriety; having suffered so much for influence was admirable, or so I supposed. I was endeavoring to deserve the freedom to do as I believed I should. I was working to attain something I already had – freedom.
He has already made you and I free. I am free to love you from the reality of who He is in and for me. The price that He paid was paid in full. And because of that I am free from my failures and inadequacies. And because I am free from my own, I am also free from your failures and inadequacies. Because the price He paid is an all encompassing and all redemptive deposit into our lives, you do not have to perform for me to believe God can do something for you. I know that the love He bestows on us is freely given, and He moves regardless of how well deserving we perceive each other to be. Because I can look at you through the eyes of love, I am not moved by your tone, facial expression, or whether I “feel” you are deserving of a touch or breakthrough.
2 Corinthians 3:4-6 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The other day my little boy was sitting on the floor playing with his toys. As soon as I walked past he started crying to be held. No shame, this kid. Just a gut wrenching, snot faced wail. I clearly heard God speak to me, “That is boldness!” The realization stopped me short. Here is this little guy, fully dependent on me to meet his needs. There is no way he can perform enough to deserve the food I feed him or the time I bestow on meeting his needs. He in himself lacks the capacity to behave well enough or to manipulate me into giving him what he wants. He cries, I act – quickly. He finds no shame in depending on me. He doesn’t feel guilty when he experiences joy upon receiving an added treat of a clean diaper. I do not allow my child a few hours of crying to humble him, or deny him food for a period of time so he consequentially appreciates it. Just like this cute-as-a-button 8 month old we, too, need to be shameless in our asking of what He freely gives. And just when we think we have been good parents, we realize God outdoes us a million times over. He has not created a kingdom that comes with striving or bribing. He paid the price, He did the effort, He took the trouble, He fulfilled the law, and He equipped us, enabled us, and now encourages us.
We have been made free from the curse of law and death. We have been chosen and equipped for good works. Through Christ, we have been made sufficient to do the works of the Father. You are enough. Be bold as a lion. Do not ever ask permission to destroy the works of evil, and do not look for justification to give to and love on people. I believe it is time we become outrageously bold about how much He loves us. I should be able to boldly love you, not because of the work I’m hoping God will do in you, but based on the knowledge of the completed work He has already done in me. We have been made free; we should start living like it. Once we fully embrace the liberty that comes from being perfectly loved, it becomes easy and natural to give and love. When people’s opinions of us, and our subsequent influence over them ceases to be a priority, when we become free of the need to perform, we become bold as lions.