THE STARTING PLACE OF ‘PARRESIA” BOLDNESS!
‘Lazarus is dead’, Jesus said with such boldness in John 11:14 that the silence that followed hung heavily in the air without commentary. In that silence Jesus’ followers tried to comprehend the moment beyond the facts! Time passed. They feared in this moment that Jesus would go to Bethany. That meant He would go into the geographic territory that would jeopardize His life. Their only response to the facts they knew were negative, clueless, even borderline smartass: ‘Let’s go so that we can die with him’. Thomas’ words of resolve were spoken out a belief that Jesus’ fate would be theirs. Grasping at the elusive truth in the moment, Thomas resolved to move forward without comprehending the weight of his own words. He just said what the others were thinking. Jesus’ perspective was different.
Jesus was at a new starting place. He knew that the resurrection of Lazarus would accelerate His march to Golgotha. His boldness, if measured in spiritual decibels, was off the charts. Jesus personified the Greek word parresia. Parresia, translated ‘boldness’, involves more than confidence. Parresia is a free flowing, unrestrained boldness. It’s a level of freedom of speech that responds without filters. Such boldness stops the conversation and punctuates the moment without reservation. Often it transcends the obvious facts of the moment. When God’s truth is proclaimed with such boldness, the earth groans with excitement. In Bethany, Jesus would state emphatically with parresia boldness: ‘I am the “resurrection’! Game on.
Jesus went court side. The disciples got off the bench. The starting place of their boldness raised the stakes of the game. God’s kind of boldness speaks truth and life. Embracing Jesus in all of His fullness breaks the chains of whatever keeps us on the sidelines. Re-read the Acts of the Holy Spirit (Book of Acts) and you’ll experience the challenge that countless believers embraced. They lived the message of Christ with unrestrained boldness. They lived out the Gospel with the full-throttled spiritual authority. Now it can be our moment, our starting place.
Sitting in prison, Paul’s words to the church carried the same measure of parresia boldness:
No matter what, I will continue to hope and passionately cling to Christ, so that he will be openly revealed through me before everyone’s eyes. So I will not be ashamed! In my life or in my death, Christ will be magnified in me. Philippians 1:20 (PBT) Verse 21 from a more familiar translation (King James) reads: For me to live is Christ, to die is gain. Paul’s thoughts are not random nor routine. His words convey an edgy level of emphatic resolve and boldness of heart.
Arriving at this level of boldness is a starting place that changes everything. The thrust of this parresia boldness changed the trajectory of the first century Church. They lived their moments boldly unrestricted by the facts around them. This place of unrestrained boldness doesn’t come from the volume of our words, but from the conviction of our hearts. That place where we attach our hearts.
The same word ‘parresia’ is found in Acts 4:13 where we read that the early church “proclaimed the Word of God with unrestrained boldness” (PBT) Boldness now! Boldness is a starting place.