A friend of mine sent me a note earlier this week, boldly confessing to something she did, to which many of us can probably relate. She was in her van with her kids, listening to Christian praise music “jamming to scriptures through song.” When she drove by her neighbors, who were out in their yards, she instinctively turned down the music, out of fear. How often have I been in a similar situation, and I “turn down Jesus” because I worry what others will think about me?
There’s subtle ways that we “turn down Jesus” in our lives. You might stop giving credit to Jesus and start taking more credit yourself. In public, do you pray at mealtimes? Do you mention your church activities to nonbelievers? When confronted with someone that you want to impress, have you ever tucked your cross pendant under your neckline? What about that fish on your bumper? Did you put it in an unobtrusive place, or is it smack dab in the center? I know a guy who didn’t settle for one fish. He had an entire school of them.
Of course, there are biblical examples as well. Peter stands out as the biggie. Three times people asked him about Jesus, and three times he denied Christ. I can especially relate with the people at the Feast of Tabernacles. They “turned down Jesus” in my most habitual way: “Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, ‘He is a good man.’ Others replied, ‘No, he deceives the people.’ But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the Jews” (John 7:12-13). Out of their fear, these people whispered among themselves about Jesus. They didn’t reach out to spread the good news; they kept comfortable, speaking with hushed tones to safe people. They literally turned down the volume on all Jesus talk. That way, nobody dangerous could overhear.
The apostle Paul speaks a lot on the topic of shame. His boldness is an encouragement to us all. Paul doesn’t tell us that we’ll be safe, but he does tell us that our boldness is worth the risk:
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day ( II Timothy 1:7-12).
Let’s turn up the Jesus. Let’s blast him out our speakers. Let’s shout him over the rooftops. We have good news to share. Pump up the volume.