Boldly proclaiming the gospel is not for the faint at heart. There are many people who will declare God’s Word unapologetically so long as it is convenient for them. But the moment they face opposition, it infringes on their progress, or becomes uncomfortable, they retreat. Sometimes that was me.
In John 8:21-30, Jesus engages in a rather lengthy discussion with the Pharisees. Verse 25 begins with the Pharisees questioning Jesus’ origin.
“So they were saying to Him, ‘Who are You?’ Jesus said to them, ‘What have I been saying from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world.”
The Pharisees knew the answer to their question. After all, they had been plotting to kill Him because of who He said He was. No matter how the Pharisees pressed Him, Jesus did not stop preaching. He was not derailed. He kept going. In verse 30, we see that many came to believe in Him as a result of His perseverance, it says, “As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him.”
I work in the arts, and it is said to be an inclusive environment. One where all are welcome and are able to speak and live their truth—unless you are a believer, that is. I understand why. Over the years, people have done heinous things in the name of Jesus Christ and have used the Word of God as a smoke screen to project their own biases. To put it in perspective, the Pharisees did the same thing. It was them, the religious leaders, who conspired to crucify Christ, The Savior of the world. They sought to use the very Bible that should have testified to them that Jesus was the Christ as a means to bait, capture, and silence Him. Evil men using God’s Word to elevate themselves is not a new thing.
Being in the arts, it can feel like there is almost an implicit hatred for anything that resembles Christ. I recall an open mic where I performed a piece called Great Faith. Afterward, another performer came to the stage; he looked at me in an angry, hurtful way. He was not upset with me; we didn’t know each other. He was upset at what he understood me to represent. When he performed his piece, I found out that he was queer, and I suspect that he had not had the best interaction with Christians in his past and possibly his present.
Now isn’t that interesting that Christians, the very people who God loved when they were still living in their sin, who He chose and ushered into a relationship with Him by sacrificing His Son, could be known for being hateful, intolerant, and hypercritical?
That is another post entirely. What I would like to focus on here and now is that as a believer in the arts it can be uncomfortable because Christ is not welcome. It is, in fact, not a safe space. One mention of the name Jesus can be the equivalent of social suicide. While I proudly spoke about my Lord and Savior at open mics, poetry slams, and storytelling events, I rarely ever mentioned Him at work. There were many opportunities. There were many office conversations where things were mentioned, and where I should have spoken up but because I was afraid, couldn’t be bothered, or whatever, I remained silent. The point is there were times my Lord was being slandered at work, and I stood by passively. I was more interested in my comfort than standing up and boldly declaring the Word of God.
I have since left that job but have not forgotten my cowardice.
Earlier this year, my devotions brought me to Ephesians 6:19.
“And pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
After reading it, I said to the Lord, “Give me this.” I prayed it over my work life. I do not want to be ashamed or shy away from difficult conversations. Jesus did not back down from the Pharisees nor did He shy away from the cross. Jesus did the things that were pleasing to His Father. He lived His life in absolute devotion to Him. Forsaking all else. He kept His eyes fixed on Him who gives life eternal.
Now, at work, I do not shy away from faith-based conversations, clarifications, or remarks. I speak about the Lord with the same endearing frankness as one would a spouse. I don’t bring Christ up unnecessarily or inappropriately, I don’t beat people over the head with my faith, and I don’t walk around pretending to be better than anyone. I simply am not ashamed. I recall my mother quoting Luke 9:26 years ago when encouraging me to be a witness at school.
“For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”
The Father has shown me great, immeasurable love. How can I ever deny Him? In many ways, my current unwillingness and inability to separate my work life from my relationship with Christ has recentered my work ethic. As a believer, I am to do everything as unto the Lord. Work is no exception.
Are you looking to Christ? Are you keeping your eyes fixed on Jesus? Does the life you live at work testify of your allegiance to the Savior? Or, does it suggest something else? Are you one person at work, another at home, and another at church? Do you unapologetically, lovingly, and truthfully declare the gospel in all circumstances no matter the cost? It is not too late to follow Jesus’ example.
As believers, we understand that preaching God’s Word will not make us popular among men. But man is not who we are serving. Remember Christ’s sacrifice. Remember God’s love. Remember to whom you belong. I encourage you to pray Ephesians 6:19 over your life. Go and fearlessly proclaim the gospel and keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. For He is our reward!