While on mission in the city of Corinth, Paul finds numerous justifications to be quiet. At the very beginning of his effort to share the Gospel, Paul is mocked, ridiculed, and summarily dismissed. That night the Lord comes to him and delivers the following message: “Do not be afraid, but go on speaking and do not be silent” (Acts 18:9).
Fear of rejection, or sometimes the certainty of it, can be a terrible obstacle to speaking up Just ask George Springer.
Springer is an Astro’s right-fielder drafted in the first round in 2011 (11th overall) who was selected World Series MVP by his teammates. With five home runs and seven RBI’s, it was not even close. Springer was a leader. Both in sports and as it turns out, in speech.
Springer suffers with a very severe stutter. He was so shy and embarrassed to speak as a child that he often chose to remain completely silent rather than open himself up to the cruel scrutiny of his peers. So it was something of a surprise to those who knew him when Springer volunteered to be a part of a new experiment being run by FOX during a MLB All-Star game in July. Select players would wear a mic while on defence and speak with commentators during the game, before millions of watching, and listening, fans.
Most would choose not to subject themselves to that level of pressure. Springer would have had all the more reason to remain silent. But instead, he chose to speak. Why would he do such a thing?
Springer is a spokesman for SAY (the Stuttering Association of the Youth). He recognizes that as a leading sports figure with a severe stutter, he is a role model to thousands across the globe. In a recent interview, he had this to say about his decision: “I was like, I can’t tell somebody to do something if I’m not going to go out and do it myself.”
Like Springer, we must believe in the message we share. If we want others to trust Jesus with their life, we must trust him with ours. That includes trusting him when it comes time to speak up. Why would anyone believe us when we tell them they can trust Jesus with their eternity, if we are not willing to trust him with a single conversation. Even though we may not feel confident and comfortable to speak, we must still step forward, put ourselves out there, and proclaim the Gospel with confidence.
In spite of pressure to be silent, Paul chose to continue speaking. And, because of his faithfulness, he established a vibrant, howbeit challenged, church in the city. And shortly after leaving, he wrote back to that same group of believers to remind them of where the power of the Christian message really comes from. “And my speech and my message,” he told them, “were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power” (1 Corinthians 2:4).
We can’t tell someone to do something, if we ourselves are not willing to do the same. At its core, the Gospel is a message that exalts God’s abilities over our abilities. It trusts in the works of Jesus over our works. The power of sharing the Gospel comes embedded in the message itself.
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