Yelling “Jesus” in a Crowded Theater

Like so many of you, I read the book of Acts and want my life to look like that of the first followers of Christ.

It doesn’t. But, there’s no reason it can’t. None.

We live in times like that into which the early church was born. Political superpowers. Factions. Arrogant leaders who wish to be unrivaled, worshiped, followed. Rampant idolatry. Civil unrest. Culture wars.

And BAM, the Holy Spirit arrives like fiery wind and men and women who fled in fear, hid from sight, cried, denied Jesus in the hour of His greatest need, these same formerly fishermen unschooled in persuasive speaking – they became unstoppable, spiritual forces who would eventually die rather than deny the truth of Christ’s resurrection.

Certain. They were certain of Jesus Christ.

Humble. They were humble because they knew who they had been without Him.

And this humble certainty rattled the reigning powers who feared the mobs they pretended to control.

Facing beatings, arrests, imprisonment, stoning, exile, death – they who had formerly fled now defied and proclaimed Christ, the crucified, the only name by which anyone can be saved – Jesus.

They spoke truth to power without hesitation and when threatened, beaten, and warned – they prayed for boldness – not deliverance – boldness.

It’s crazy that living in times where everyone is encouraged to “speak their truth” and to “own their story,” there’s small tolerance for talk of God. Almost none if that God is THE GOD, Jesus.

A time will come when it will be illegal to yell “Jesus” in a crowded theater. We’re almost there now. Can you hear that particular horse ride?

I tested it this week – because I’m praying for boldness and asking for opportunities to mention the only name by which anyone will be saved.

A group on Facebook was engaged in a heated discussion because one member had been spamming repeatedly with “inspirational” memes. Some members were annoyed at their religious nature and the conversation was turning decidedly against any mention of religion in the group.

So, I mentioned Jesus and how much I love Him and couldn’t imagine that He wouldn’t, on occasion, insist on showing up in the group, because He loves the people in the group.

The slamdown was immediate.

I was actually awed by the speed and force.

But, you know what? I was fine. And, some piped up in defense of me (and Jesus, by association) and a couple others (not many) but a couple others find courage to “like” my comment and even to add their own. The initial slammer agreed to tolerate me for the time being.

Another time is coming.

And so, I’m praying for boldness now and exercising certainty and cultivating humility by the grace of Jesus.

Because one day, I may need the certainty and boldness and humility to shout “Jesus” in a crowded theater, so I’m learning to follow Jesus as He walks on water now because that looks easier than facing that eventual mob.

The deception increases – it rises like floodwater.

The stakes have never been higher (not for those of us who believe because we know the end of the story – we’re fine) – but for those who don’t yet call out in faith to the Son of God, the risen Jesus.

We must remember the ones who came before us and their warning to the men and women of their times that echoes now to us:

“Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.” Acts 3:19-23 ESV

“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 ESV

The greatest danger of our times is not that there are many unsaved people who don’t believe God, it’s that there are so many Christians who don’t.

Believe Jesus enough to speak His name with humble certainty.

Certainty will come as we spend time with Jesus. Humility will come as we speak up and engage the hostile crowd and present truth to power.

Boldness will come as we inhale the breath of God and exhale holy fire. The name of Jesus is that flame and we dare not try to contain it when it burns for release into these days.

We are equipped and designed to represent Him now. Believe this now, in Jesus’ name.

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17 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Rob McCullough says:

    Amen Lori! Very good!

  2. Jan Clough says:

    Continue to give me boldness Lord especially in these last days even though my dearest friend suggested we don’t discuss religion anymore as she does not share my ‘ radical ‘ Christian views. This dear friend is liberal in her thinking, sadly along with the church she attends.
    Give me boldness Lord even though it is uncomfortable for those liberal church goers to hear of salvation, end times and dare l say, hell! Yes we must show grace and sensitivity, however, we must never wrap up the truth for fear of offence, after all are we not sharing the greatest gift of love that the world has ever known.
    Jesus said I am the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to The Father except through me Amen!

    Thank you for your boldness my dear sister Lori, I am sure many others will follow your example.

  3. Nancy says:

    Thank you,Lori Roelevelds, for this awesome reminder…lesson. I want to be as bold as the Disciples, in this world, today. It does take prayer and power from the Holy Spirit and God !! Your words have excited me… have lifted me. Thank You, again. I will share this post.
    And, Yes, There Are ‘Christians’ who just want to live in their day to day “Bubble”. I am a Christian, but have started saying that “I am a Believer, a follower of JESUS”.!
    Christians…in name only, have given the unsaved, wrong idea of our beliefs. So, We need to Stand and Be Bold,as Christian Believers…and Shout Out The Name Of JESUS, In Our ‘Theatre’. May GOD Bless You, Lori, in your Ministry.

  4. Lisa Luciano says:

    Yes. Well said. Now inspired to do likewise. Thank you.

  5. Debra Rodriguez says:

    Lori, once again! I might have been tempted to just leave that group or allowed them to “unfriend” me. Take the easier route. Ruffle fewer feathers. Don’t draw attention. That’s how I was raised.
    But you wrote, “The greatest danger of our times is not that there are many unsaved people who don’t believe God, it’s that there are so many Christians who don’t.”
    That’s not me. So I need to bring into focus how Jesus is raising me. And let the me that He is creating me to be ruffle a few feathers, draw some attention and never take the easier route.

  6. Nancy K. Sullivan says:

    Our small prison mentoring group has just begun a verse-by-verse study of Acts. Largely because you mentioned you were reading it. And reading it again. These women are truly bold in their faith inside the walls of a hostile environment. I confess I probably need this study more than they do, and I expect I’ll learn from them. Prayers appreciated 🙂

  7. Sherry Carter says:

    Lori, your words pierced me like a sword. Christians who don’t believe God…a frightening thought. Even more so because, often, that describes me! It’s scary to pray for boldness because He just might take me up on it and put me in a situation that requires it.

    I have surrounded myself with believing friends so I’m comfortable. I sit at my desk and wrote Bible studies and no one challenges me.

    My first prayer needs to be, “Make me bold enough to pray for boldness!”

  8. gail says:

    One thing that bothers me the most is for children at school and other places. Even though they believe in Jesus they do not have the strength yet to not want to be a part of everyone else. There are some very cruel people at school and sometimes even the teachers do not stop it. We do pray for protection and for strength for them to stand up for Jesus until they can receive a stronger faith. It’s just plain hard. And it hurts, it hurts them and it hurts us , As parents and grandparents! May God help us to stand strong and have faith to be a light for him and to give him glory. Amen
    Thank you for this article, we appreciate it very much!

  9. Sherry says:

    Oh hallelujah! Yes. This is my prayer also. We who know Jesus…have the TRUTH! May we be bold in every opportunity! Thanks Lori.

  10. Deb Kreyssig says:

    Amen and Amen Laurie!!

  11. Carla Femat says:

    Love how you catch me, by your titles! It works, not only for me to read it but also the message. I enjoyed this afticle, I pray I can become more and more bold so I can exhail Jesus to all who needs Him! Thanks for encouragement.

  12. Jann B. says:

    AMAZING article, Lori!!

    satan’s time is running out. He is using everything in his arsenal to destroy Christ-followers. We must be ever-vigilant, seeking to speak with the boldness you describe to those who face eternal separation from GOD.

  13. Bruce A Cunningham says:

    Wow Lori-

    Our Tuesday Evening Expository Bible Class just finished Acts 4. We had the exact same takeaway as you did.

    The Spirit hasn’t changed. The Message hasn’t changed. Yet where is the Church’s humble certainty of Jesus’ resurrection, and of Acts 4:12?

    Sooo refreshing to hear an “Amen” coming from your blog!

    This is why I read your posts!

  14. Cathy Gohlke says:

    I love this, Lori. Sometimes it’s hard to believe the times in which we live are actually here–that things are as they are. We knew and know this day and more will come, but in so many ways it feels surreal. Thank you for holding up a mirror. We all need it. God bless you!

  15. Terry & Patricia says:

    Excellent Lori… needed to be said!

  16. Joann Biewer says:

    I agree with your statement that many Christians don’t believe God. I watched a young millennial Christian man being interviewed by a very popular reporter about his very radical new book. The reporters questions were very guarded and I wondered why. The young man seemed to know the Bible better than most and quoted it often. In his book he talked of radical change in this country that needs to take place. As the conversation went on I realized the concern the reporter had as he was talking about taking over the government and doing it with force instead of leadership. I guess he missed the part in the Bible that states that Jesus will make all things new, and he will be our new government, where there will be no more death no mourning or crying or pain and the former things will have passed away. That’s what we all should look forward to, not trying to constantly change something that’s always been broken. Take heart it won’t be long dear ones it won’t be long.

  17. Travis Hendley says:

    Thanks Lori. Good perspective. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the Word says unbelievers are blinded, enslaved, and hostile to God and his people. It’s also made me wonder how we can respond well in such a hateful environment. Thanks for giving me something to think about.