These words have inspired my entire adult life as I have endeavoured to walk in the footsteps of Jesus – and especially, in my retirement years, in sharing the gospel with the Jewish people.
Back in the 1980s, many Christians took to the streets of Britain and elsewhere as the March for Jesus movement witnessed to the faith that has made the world a better place.
But that message has largely fallen silent of late as fearful believers are intimidated by aggressive secularism and woke culture into hiding their light under a bushel.
In their place, Pride marches showcasing the LGBT agenda have swept the globe, their rainbow-coloured flags even encroaching on Jerusalem the Golden.
But it was good to see Christians from around the world also descending on the holy city to make their mark, particularly in voicing their support for the Jewish state.
Isn’t it time followers of Jesus everywhere rose up as never before to proclaim the truth to a world in utter confusion and chaos? Do we not need a revival of such marches?
Instead, too many of us cower behind locked doors (as the first disciples did before the Holy Spirit came), possibly for fear of being accused of ‘hate speech’ or simply down to ‘stage fright’ when it comes to sharing our faith.
We surely need to recapture the fearlessness of those early apostles who had caught the fire of Pentecost and who were persecuted from pillar to post, yet without flinching in their determination to share gospel truth.
They did not seek to be martyrs, as terrorists are prone to do in the misguided expectation of paradise as their reward, but did not shrink from death in their efforts to spread the fragrance of God’s love for us all.
Although the death and resurrection of Jesus was their essential message, their boldness was a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit, initially poured out on the day of Pentecost.
But that day wasn’t just a one-off event. Like us today, they were in constant need of such Spirit-empowering. So when they were freshly threatened, they pleaded once again for renewed power. And the Lord graciously answered, as in Acts 4:31 which records:
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
The Apostle Peter was later to write:
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15)
So when three lovely widows joined our table with their takeaway coffee during an outing in a beautiful nearby park, a lively conversation soon prompted the opportunity to share the miracle of our marriage – how we met on a blind date and were soon married in fulfilment of a vision of her wedding given to my wife Linda during a visit to Cana in Galilee where Jesus turned water into wine during a wedding feast!
The master of ceremonies was amazed that, in a break from tradition, the best wine had been saved till last. And I felt led to encourage the ladies that, if they would just trust the Lord, their latter years would be the best of all – as mine have been.
We talked of many things and they kept joking that we had managed to put the world to rights. And, of course, that is so true. For when Jesus comes into the picture, life becomes more clearly focused and in full colour.
It was more than four decades ago that I launched a gospel newspaper called New Life. As I was seeking the Lord for confirmation that it was his plan for me, walking along a lovely ridge in rural Yorkshire, I came to the brow of a hill with a magnificent view of the valley below.
Immediately, I heard the Lord say: “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news…” (Isaiah 52:7).
But it was another three decades before the original context of that verse came home to me. I was in Jerusalem and, as I looked out towards the Mt of Olives, I became aware for the first time of the true fulfilment of that verse, speaking of the feet proclaiming peace, good tidings and salvation on the mountains of Jerusalem, saying to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Christians have not come here to convert Jews, but simply to obey the biblical call to declare to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
To declare that we have met your beautiful Messiah, and how thankful we are for that. Yes, your God reigns! Hallelujah!
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; To the Jew First, A Nation Reborn, and King of the Jews, all available from Christian Publications International.
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