Go right now to Google and do a search for images on boldness. What did you find? A lousy quote by Thomas Jefferson? Some dude scaling a mountain for an unknown reason? A guy with a tattoo on his neck? A tiger? A pithy sentence telling you to “be yourself?” A dumb statement written in bold font, which is now supposed to be remarkable?
Did you go the extra step and type in the word bold already? Do you know what you will find? A bunch of pictures of cell phones. Some edition of the Blackberry is called “bold.” I am sure there are other pictures around but I got tired of seeing page after page of a cell phone so I cannot vouch for any other pictures depicting the word bold offered to us by Google.
This is only remarkable for the simple fact that we are constantly bombarded with pictures of things we think we understand. If I am writing on love, for instance, it may take me forever to find a suitable picture but it seems every Tom, Dick and Harry has their own take on what that little word means. It is the same for faith, hope, fear, freedom, God, Jesus and whatever we want to see at the moment.
So why does it seem we have yet to take a stab at depicting boldness? Could it be that we do not understand what boldness is because we have never experienced it? Sure, we have all had melt-downs with our siblings, parents, bosses, spouses, children, friends and fellow-drivers- and sometimes God. We have all had the therapeutic experience of reading somebody the riot act, but is this boldness?
As a Bay Area baseball fan growing up, I remember the great Rickey Henderson. He was brash. He spoke his mind. Some would say he was bold.
We laugh because he seems to be a caricature of a brave man but deep down I think we have a longing to be free to speak our mind. We all have the latent desire within us to know and to be known. From the womb, though, we do everything we can to suppress our feelings, to run from others and most of all to hide out from God.
Who among us cannot feel the joy of freedom when we hear that I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known?
I’ll tell you who does not feel joy and freedom at this proposal: any of us.
If we get down to brass tacks this statement terrifies us to a point that we check out and move on to something easier, more convenient. “Great point Casey…now what’s on tv…?” The reason I know this is the case is that I feel the same impulse in me even as I write.
It is a terrifying thing to be really known.
To be known we have to break the cycle of our whole lives, which is defined by the impressive word, hiding. Hiding is what we do as men and women. It is what our first parents did so long ago. It is not as complicated as it seems.
We hear the voice of the devil.
We turn against God.
We realize we are exposed.
We retreat in shame.
This is the basic pattern of our lives. At the end of the day, whether we like to admit it or not, we are more afraid of being known than we are of most anything else. We just cannot put that kind of trust in somebody’s hands. We have been betrayed before. We have betrayed others. How can we possibly trust another enough to be bold with them?
Boldness is not something we are after as sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.
We want to be known but we are not willing to pay the cost and trust others- especially not God.
It is precisely here that the gospel of Jesus will take root if we just give him a chance. He came not just to take us out of hell and bring us to heaven (sweet as though that exchange is). He wants to give us boldness in our dealings with him.
Have you thought about that? Boldness. Confidence. Trust. The ability to speak our minds before the Creator of the universe- this is what it will mean for the love of God to drive out our fears. He gives us the ability and the desire to know and to be known. He does not want us to shrink back from his presence, awesome and terrifying though it may be. He wants us to lay our burdens on him. He wants us to tell him our wants, our perceived needs (let’s be honest, most of our “needs” are extraneous for and an impediment to our happiness), our loves, our hates, our darkness, our light, our joy and our pain.
He wants us to be absolutely confident that there is nothing we can do to change our status with him. He wants us to trust him enough to be ourselves- dirty and broken though we may be- he still made us, lived for us, died for us, rose for us, ascended to heaven for us, prays for us, and waits to come back for us. He makes us what we are and then tells us to come to him with bold confidence.
Now, put away your swear jar and talk to your father. Jesus wants us to be the kind of people who are so convinced God is faithful that we draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.
Sometimes that means singing a song of joy, happiness and jubilation. Sometimes that means singing a song of anger, longing, frustration and confusion. All the time that means coming to him being convinced that he is for us. That he will be true to his word. That he will not leave us or forsake us.
I want to give you a quick picture of the type of boldness that I am talking about. I will warn you there is almost exclusively profanity in this little clip.
Now watch a man learning to be free:
Now get over your piety. Forget about what you are supposed to do with your father. Seek his face in the face of Christ and his community. He wants to know you so strongly that he lived, died, rose and lives for you. He is strong enough to correct your false thinking. He is patient enough to see your journey through. He is faithful enough to finish his work in you.
Be not afraid. God is for you.