A life lesson from a Red-winged Blackbird.
"Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness." (Acts 4:29)
One of my professors said a few months ago,"The opposite of faith is not doubt; it's fear." Fear keeps us in bondage, preventing us from trusting, believing, and moving forward. And fear paralyzes our lips. Why don't we share the Gospel? Perhaps its because Rome has told us that whatever religion we accept is permissible--as long as we're silent.
In patches of Indiana countryside, as in the picture above, Creation refuses to be silent. Regardless if the wind is completely still or rain threatens to drive all humans indoors, the melodies of birds persist as they mate, defend, and forage. The Red-winged Blackbird, a native North American species, is commonly found in wet, marshy areas and countryside. They are aggressive and territorial, the males' brightly colored wings offering a showy display of their personality. And if their dive-bombing and rapid flight doesn't distinguish them, their voices ensure that all approaching animals are aware of their presence.
The mouthy Red-winged Blackbird may use its calls for notification of predators (like me) or mating, but its continual noise is a good reminder that followers of Christ should refuse to be quiet. And yet so often we are. Have you ever compared the conclusion of Mark's Gospel to the rest? Matthew ends with the Great Commission, Luke finishes with Jesus's ascension into Heaven and the disciples' worship, and John writes about Jesus's command to Peter to follow Him. But if you turn to Mark 16, some variation of the following words are likely printed in your Bible before verse 9: "The earliest manuscripts and some other ancient witnesses do not have Mark 16:9-20." Mark originally concluded with Mary Magdalene and Mary (James's mother) fleeing from Christ's tomb and "saying nothing to anyone, because they were afraid."
Pastor Steve DeNeff notes that Mark likely ended his Gospel in silence because the emperor Nero was in power and persecuting Christians during the time it was written. Christians in Nero's time, like the women in Mark 16:8, would have also been afraid. Today we live in a free nation yet our culture has taught us to stay in our place. Have you ever though about how much is at stake in the name of Christ? Because we fear that we can't believe something that we can't rationally prove, "One nation under God" is removed from the Pledge of Allegiance, the Ten Commandments can't be posted in a government building, "Happy Holidays" has replaced "Merry Christmas," and we're now "Christ followers" instead of "Christians," which brings with it centuries of negative connotations.
Regardless of how we are perceived, the world must "know we are Christians by our love," but it must also hear the name of Jesus Christ. If we really walk by faith and believe in the work at Calvary, we must be bold to proclaim the Man who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.