The word “boldness” jumps out at me in two places in the reading from Acts. Boldness is synonymous with fearless, courageous, and brave. Thus, most probably, it is Luke the Evangelist who asks the Lord to “enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness.”
Each year as I listen to the readings for Palm Sunday, I am struck by Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus. This is far from speaking boldly, but Peter’s very life was threatened. Peter did come around, but in the end, his boldness cost him his life.
Boldness of expression is a powerful practice, but in today’s world, boldness is also a bit scary. Our nation and world are so polarized that we may place ourselves in danger by being too bold. How many of us fear being bold, because there may be retaliation toward us for our speaking boldly about our faith or our political beliefs? How many of us fear speaking boldly toward a stranger when that stranger is doing something that we find offensive? Do you think of “road rage” when you read this?
How can we be true to our faith and also be bold in our expression? If Jesus knew of Peter’s betrayal and still loved him, it would seem to follow that Jesus knows that we may not speak with boldness as often as we should. He knows that the circumstances of our lives and the world in which we live may challenge our courage, because we are afraid for ourselves or our loved ones.
But, what can we do that is bold and faith-filled? I believe that we can be bold of expression by our example. We can live our lives in a manner that demonstrates our faith and lets those around us know by our actions what is important to us. We do not have to continually speak out against those whose behaviors are contrary to the tenants of our faith traditions, but we can speak and act boldly to show others the faith-filled way. We can be the example of faithfulness and faith-filled actions that set a positive tone and which provide others with behaviors and attitudes to imitate.
In Peter’s example, we see a faithful and faith-filled man who has to make terrible choices three times. Jesus does not condemn Peter, but he does recognize Peter’s human nature and concerns. There is a way to act boldly and to give glory to God without endangering ourselves. We can be bold in our faithful and faith-filled actions!!
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