One thing that I’ve always loved with this church is the bold proclamation of Jesus and how we make that clearly and publicly visible. ‘Jesus Army’ is written on vehicles, on flags; some of us wear red crosses or even colourful Jesus jackets; our social centres are called Jesus Centres where the cross is the first thing you see. As someone told me some years ago: “We’re loud and proud!”
And we should be.
Jesus said: “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.” (Matthew 10:27). The original apostolic church in Jerusalem didn’t just experience lots of miracles and have community of goods, they were daily in the temple courts telling people “all about this new life” (Acts 5:20).
Basically, they were unable to shut up! “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (5:42). When they were persecuted, they prayed and were “filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31).
The apostle Paul also found it impossible to be discreet about Jesus. In Ephesus, he went to the synagogue and “spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God”. (Acts 19:8). When he was kicked out, he went to a public lecture hall and spoke there every single day. “This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” (v. 10).
He explains the motivation for his unapologetic evangelism in his letter to the Romans: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom 1:16).
We have received a message that is all about an eternal love that brings eternal life. How could we be ashamed of that? How could we be quiet about that?
Of course, Satan hates when we boldly proclaim the gospel. He seeds false ideas in the church, such as that it would be embarrassing to be a Christian, or that it is rude and offensive to proclaim the truth and that it is hard or impossible to evangelise publicly today. And so a lot of Christians and churches sadly have become quiet and afraid.
Meanwhile, political parties, corporations and secular organizations are as publicly bold as ever. They invest millions of pounds in advertising, open-air meetings and PR. I think it is safe to say that nobody is claiming that public evangelism doesn’t work today except the church (“evangelism” then meaning all forms of public communication). Similarly, it seems that only the Christian message is being described as offensive; while the Lord’s prayer was banned from UK cinemas there aren’t many advertisement restrictions for businesses as long as it’s not overly violent or sexualised.
Jesus said: “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” (Mt 10:32-33). There’s just one way to make sure we won’t miss the mark as we stand before the throne of God on the last day.
We’ve got to be loud and proud for Jesus.