Boldness or Respect?
January 16, 2024
“Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold” (2 Corinthians 3:12, NIV).
He is a devout, young, Muslim physician whom I had trained. He lost his first wife during her pregnancy along with their first son. He has now been practicing oncology for a few years and is remarried with two young children. He and his new wife asked us to dinner, and we sat across from them, meeting her for the first time. Respectful of their faith, I took my wife’s hand and bowed in silent thanks for the food.
He immediately spoke up, “What? Are you not going to pray for us? When we were your fellows, you always prayed for us.”
It seems like I can never get it straight. Boldness versus respect.
Normally, my approach over meals with people of other faiths, and those of no faith, is to ask them, “Do you mind if I thank God for this food?” Sometimes I end the prayer in Jesus’ name and others I just say “Amen.” I don’t know how I choose one or the other.
When should respect for the other person’s faith, or lack thereof, interfere with the bold witness that God would ask of me? Certainly, this time, my ex-fellow reminded me that my prayers for him in the past had been a meaningful way to point to the Father.
Asking permission is part of the answer. Intentionality, boldness and respect are probably best blended by first asking permission; and after receiving it, praying sincerely and authentically in the name of Christ.
Perhaps it’s the same when non-believers come to us at other times, with deep questions or deep trials where we know Christ is the answer.
Of course, we must share life with them if we are to ever experience this dilemma of boldness versus respect. Oswald Chambers tells us that the three requirements for effective witness are:
- To live among them,
- To be fully grounded in God’s Word, and
- To depend totally on His Spirit.
I suspect that any confusion I have about boldness, respect and right words would be clarified if I brought these three things to the table. All the rest is His business.
In my timidity, I still want to witness for Christ in a meaningful way. Guide me, please, O Lord.