When I was a young pastor, I was invited to give the invocation and benediction at a prestigious graduation ceremony on a Chicago college campus. The college president informed me that, since this was a nonsectarian event, I should not mention the name of Jesus. After they introduced me, I stepped to the podium and prayed a watered-down prayer. Returning to my seat, I felt a profound sense of regret. Have you ever been under the conviction of the Holy Spirit? I thought of Paul’s words, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Rom. 1:16).
I had allowed political correctness to squeeze Jesus out of my prayer. Before I gave the benediction, I said, “I know this is a nonsectarian event and I don’t want to offend anyone, but I’m going to pray in the name of the only One I believe in: my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” That prayer was full of power. As I made my way down the aisle, I knew they were not happy, but I had a clear conscience.
In the book of Acts, we see people radically transformed by Jesus who became bold about the gospel. They refused to be silenced, even when faced with dire consequences. In the days after Pentecost, Christians were tortured, threatened, put in jail, or to death. And while societies have tried to stamp out the fire of the gospel ever since, it has never been successfully extinguished! The gospel is a wildfire that cannot be stopped.
I believe the greatest danger to Christianity today is not persecution, but secularism. It has the power to lull us to sleep, to silence our voices, and to put us in our place. In Acts, Peter and John were told: “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (4:18). But they replied, “We cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (vv. 19–20).
Friends, there are some of us who should be standing up but right now you’re sitting. You should be speaking, but you’re silent. I believe that now is the time for you and me to live boldly for Jesus. Like those early Christ-followers, we must be unashamed of the gospel, living out our faith, and pointing others to Jesus! May we be unable and unwilling to be silent about what we believe.