by Pastor Keith Knight
As our church embarks on a study through the book of Daniel, we are seeing what it is to be bold in a world of skeptics, scoffers, and God-haters. How can we have the courage to live in a way that may cost us relationally, professionally, financially, and possibly even physically?
As parents, I feel we often desire for our children to be bold in their faith, and yet it seems like so many of our kids are hesitant to live with the kind of boldness that we see in Daniel and his friends. Sometimes we might even think that boldness is an inherent ‘personality trait’ and that some of our kids are simply introverts, and it would be unfair to expect them to live outside of how God created them.
Truth is, boldness has little to do with being an introvert or extrovert. Speaking as a somewhat extroverted person, I can attest that I have little problem going up to someone and starting up a conversation or acting silly in front of a group, but when it comes to starting up a conversation about Jesus, it always seems like the shyness wants to kick in. By the same measure, I have seen introverted teenagers be unashamed to share their convictions about Christ when asked, and can testify that being bold is not about brashness, or running into a crowded room shouting Scripture at everyone.
Boldness is simply the courage to live in a way that is unwaveringly built on a standard of truth that is unchanging and knowable, based on Jesus Christ.
But….how do we cultivate boldness in our children, in a world that tells them to keep their beliefs to themselves? I believe we can boil it down to two major things, based on Christ’s words to the Samaritan woman at the well:
John 4:23-24 “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The Spirit: Scripture is clear that NO ONE calls Christ ‘Lord!’ apart from the Spirit. There is no intellectual conviction that will cause someone to be truly convinced of Christ’s true nature and Lordship, but it must come from a supernatural revelation of the Holy Spirit. In 2 Cor. 3:12, Paul in speaking about the new life in the Holy Spirit, says that the hope we find through the Spirit makes us ‘very bold.’
It is a good thing to teach our children the doctrines of Scripture, but if we are expecting boldness where there is no activity of the Holy Spirit, we are asking for something that God has not promised. We MUST emphasize to our children the truth of salvation, that it is a work of the Holy Spirit that gives us new life, and a supernatural conviction that Christ is ALL.
The Truth: It is true that the Holy Spirit is the basis of boldness in the lives of believers, but it is equally true that boldness is shored up when a person is utterly convinced that they are on the ‘right side.’ Many Christian children aren’t afraid to speak up simply because they’ll be labeled an individual. After all, many kids thrive on separating themselves in some new way from the crowd, or being ‘trend-setting.’
Many Christian children are afraid to be bold about the Christian faith because they fear they are in danger of sacrificing their social status for myths.
It is true that the initial conviction that spurs boldness is the work of the Spirit, but there must be a constant saturation of Biblical truth that is being fed to believers. Boldness itself is not a great characteristic when you cannot point to definitive truth and how it shows the error of worldly thinking. Many young believers proclaim Christ as Lord, but have no idea how that challenges what their non-Christian friends believe are the guidelines for life.
Proverbs 28:1 ‘the wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a Lion.’
Our kids are being coached by the world to believe that Christianity is just one idea in a big marketplace of equally true and beneficial ideas. We must be in constant prayer for the work and conviction of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and constantly feeding them the Word of God and showing them that God has authoritatively declared truth and its source through Jesus Christ. When they are overwhelmingly convinced that the Lord has spoken in the world, and into their hearts, they will fear nothing the world can throw at them, because they have the Lion of the Tribe of Judah fighting for them.