Prior to becoming a Christian, Paul had persecuted believers with a vengeance. Well educated in Jewish tradition, Roman schooling and other scholarly traditions, Paul thought he was doing God a favor. He was unapologetic in his approach. He was dedicated to kicking in doors and locking up Christ’s followers up for good. He even attended the stoning of Stephen one of the first deacons, Stephen.
You would think that as an enemy of Christ, God would put him away. However God had other plans for Paul. According to Ananias’ account in Acts, God had a plan for Paul that include him being a world class evangelist and who would suffer much.
The key word, which is my addition, is that Paul “would” suffer. He willingly gave his life to Christ after his conversion on the road to Damascus. As we look into bravery, commitment and standing up for what’s right, we see instances where God’s people submitted, as Jesus did, to being brought where they didn’t want to go, and suffer things they didn’t plan on suffering and did so willingly. But, they didn’t do so as victims.
A prime example is where shortly after Paul’s conversion, he is preaching Christ to the Jews and in their synagogue. All the Jews could remember is how Paul had at one point been commissioned to stop the spread of Christianity and now he is infected; a believer. From Paul’s point of view, he can do nothing else. Having crossed the line, he was “all in”, ready and willing to serve. As with his earlier life, he did so without apology. Having upset the Jews, he faced his first death threat. Other disciples helped him escape.
However, Paul is not acting cowardly. He is boldly professing Christ. As a result, people want him to stop and will take his life to do so. Paul’s escape wasn’t a concession, but a bold plan to preserve his mission. He didn’t run away, denounce Christ, conform to the world or stay quiet. He ran to fight another day. Almost immediately, he began to preach at another location.
Using Paul’s example, here are 3 world class ways to be bold in light of adversity
1. Preach Christ where and when you can. God’s word is always valuable. However, some people won’t believe you and many will attack, ignore and try to discourage you. Here are some possible reactions:
a. If pulled away by the spirit, follow the lead
b. If chased out, go. Just as Jesus instructed his disciples to shake off the dust; dust yourselves off and go elsewhere
2. Always remember, the gospel always makes sense to somebody. You never know when you save a life. Be prepared to address questions with confidence (pray, read, practice). You might not have Paul’s education, but you do have your story and experiences. Speak for yourself and don’t try to use someone else’s words.
3. Step back, refresh and seek help from fellow Christians. Paul got help from the church. Make sure you are well connected, resourced and in a position to be renewed spiritually.
Jeffrey W. Bennett, ISP is an author of non-fiction books, novels and periodicals.