Be Bold

On Halloween night in 1938, CBS radio listeners tuned in for Orson Wells’ weekly Mercury Theater program. That night’s program was a production of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds,” a tale of an alien invasion in New Jersey. The show was done in a fake news bulletin style, and it was clearly stated in the beginning that the piece was fiction. But listeners who tuned in later were led to believe that they were actually listening to breaking news, and some called the police, newspapers, and other radio stations in great confusion.

The next day, newspapers across the country spread rumors of mass stampedes, multiple suicides, thousands of people fleeing their homes, and national panic due to the broadcast. Further investigation showed that very few people actually listened to the low-rated show, and the “nation-wide panic” that ensued was greatly exaggerated. To this day, many people still believe that the broadcast resulted in a hysteria, but there is no data to support that thinking. Wells was accused of deliberately deceiving the listeners and his career was tainted by the experience.

 In our reading from Acts today, we see an impressive group of local Jewish leaders who are willing to listen to Paul despite knowing that “people everywhere are talking against” him. Rather than buy into the rumors and then amplify them, they gathered in large numbers to hear him witness from morning to evening about being chained to Christ who was the “hope of Israel” as he described it (verse 20).  Some were convinced, some were not, but all listened and heard the good news proclaimed.

Acts 28:17-24 (Common English Bible)

17 Three days later, Paul called the Jewish leaders together. When they gathered, he said, “Brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, I’m a prisoner from Jerusalem. They handed me over to the Romans, 18 who intended to release me after they examined me, because they couldn’t find any reason for putting me to death. 19 When the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar. Don’t think I appealed to Caesar because I had any reason to bring charges against my nation. 20 This is why I asked to see you and speak with you: it’s because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.”

21 They responded, “We haven’t received any letters about you from Judea, nor have any of our brothers come and reported or said anything bad about you. 22 But we think it’s important to hear what you think, for we know that people everywhere are speaking against this faction.”

23 On the day scheduled for this purpose, many people came to the place where he was staying. From morning until evening, he explained and testified concerning God’s kingdom and tried to convince them about Jesus through appealing to the Law from Moses and the Prophets. 24 Some were persuaded by what he said, but others refused to believe.

I wonder if it was Paul’s description of being chained to Christ that made them open to receive his message. Here was a man who was literally chained to a Roman guard while he was awaiting to appeal his arrest before Caesar, yet he still boldly spoke the truth everywhere he went to whomever would listen.

Boldness is the key when it comes to our testimony. How bold are you? Do you talk to the stranger on the plane about your faith? Does your doctor know you are a Christian? If being a Christian was a punishable offense, would there be enough evidence in your life to arrest you for it?

Paul’s example of bold tenacity is a clear reminder to us today to take advantage of all those opportunities where someone might be ready to hear about Jesus. We, too, are chained to the hope of Israel … and the world.

Bold Sunrise by Michelle Robertson

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s