One of the inescapable truths about being human is that in many cases, we are shy.
I, for example, have a fear of being ridiculed, particularly for the things I say or believe. Why, on earth, then, would God call me to evangelize? Why would He call any of us to spread His word and reach out to others in faith, laying hands on the sick and calling out demons, knowing that some of us have a hard time saying, “Bless you!” when someone sneezes, much less, “Can I tell you about Jesus?”?
And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. …
“As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.”
— Matthew 10:1, 7-8
Do you think any of those twelve were any less shy than you? Some were fishermen, generally content to make their living out in a boat, away from people; and such company as they had were probably very similar in their thinking and attitudes towards life. There was Matthew himself, who as a tax collector, probably didn’t have many close friends. The others probably didn’t venture much outside their own circle — just like us today.
So what makes the difference? For one thing, Jesus gave the disciples “power” — the same power He gives us when we receive the Holy Spirit.
Remember that He gave them commands, the way a general commands his or her troops: preach; heal; cleanse; raise; cast out; give. Those aren’t requests; and a good general doesn’t order troops to do anything if they’re not equipped.
But there’s also this.
I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
— Galatians 2:20
In context, Paul is disputing with Peter about whether Gentiles should become Jews in order to receive Eternal Salvation in Christ, but on its own, that verse can speak directly to us. While the idea of being “crucified” along with Jesus may appear to refer to really bad stuff like sinful nature, the everyday attitudes that we had also get nailed there. That includes our shyness, our reticence, and our fear of ridicule. There are some positive traits in that — like circumspection and awareness of others’ feelings — but the Holy Spirit — Christ in us — gives us the boldness to “speak the truth in love,” as Paul writes to the Ephesians (4:15).
Tomorrow, I’ll tell you a story about doing just that — and becoming “the match”.