When I hear the word ‘audacious’ I think ‘shock, scandal, sharp intake of breath-hand over mouth’. Indeed, the Oxford dictionary defines audacious as ‘showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks’. What stands out for me, is the element of surprise, and surprise denotes a departure from the norm. It’s easy to see what the norms in our society are, by examining what everyone does. You will notice a trend and common denominator, indications of what is acceptable in our culture. It’s funny how many young people for instance, do the exact same thing (e.g. weed, get wasted) and somehow believe they’re ‘badass’ or rebellious. That behaviour isn’t necessarily rebellious; it’s simply doing what everyone else does and perceives as ‘cool’.
But how about a pure life? A life dedicated to the living God?
What I love a lot about the Bible, in particular the New Testament commandments and the life of Jesus, is how audacious it all is. Jesus went against all that was ‘culturally normal’ at the time. He broke the rules, for the cause of His Father. In John 4 v 7-10 Jesus asks a Samaritan woman for a drink at the well. You might be thinking wow, great… doesn’t sound too shocking though. But verse 9 makes it clear what the shock factor was: ‘The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).’ Here, Jesus interacted not only with a Samaritan, but also a woman (in public), which was unacceptable at the time. Yet he ignored social convention, in the process showing the grace of God and introducing her to the living water (v 10). Fast-forward some years later, and you find the early Christians being persecuted and brutally killed for the sheer audacity of their faith. They went against norms as simple yet fundamental as making sacrifices to the Roman gods- sending ripples around the empire. Wow. Can you imagine the level of passion and courage these men and women had, to risk being killed (fed to lions, etc) for their love for Jesus?
This, and all the acts of Jesus and his disciples, should challenge us about the lives we live as Christians today. Are we too comfortable? Do we fit into society too easily? Stepping outside of cultural norms requires boldness. Ministering to people means stepping outside of the comfort zone and ‘meeting them at their well.’ Being a Jesus follower needs a level of audacity in this world. We can’t follow Jesus and conform to the world’s culture at the same time. It doesn’t work! To be light, you can’t be afraid to look different. We live in an increasingly self absorbed and self-conscious culture, so you’ll be surprised at how much this holds people back. It’s all about the image these days.
What we need, is for more people to take hold of their identity in Christ, and and make that their image. Yes, you can divert your passion, creativity, time, voice, social media platforms to loving God, loving the ‘unlovable’, and sharing Jesus. Don’t be afraid to show who your Lord is..who you’re on fire for. Don’t shy away from going against the grain, surrendering to and living for Him. We need to be bold to see a real movement of God in our city, and country. Christ is our light, and to shine that light in a dark world, we need to be audacious.
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Bible Study (for more on this topic)
- Revelations 3:15-22
- Acts 4:29
- Romans 12:1-2 [The Message version]
- Psalm 119:9-16
- Matthew 5:13-16
- 1 John 2:15-16 [The Message version]
- Matthew 6:24