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Reflections

PASTOR MICHAEL BROOKS: Stand up, stand up for Jesus (column)

Michael J. Brooks - Reflections

Michael J. Brooks

One of our greatest fears is “glossophobia,” the fear of public speaking. One high-schooler explained his fear in a unique way.

“I think in my head that people in the audience focus on me and shoot negative gamma rays into my brain,” he wrote. “This is why I get nervous and mess up. It’s not my fault.”

I can’t vouch for the scientific reliability of his claim, but the fear is nonetheless real. Most of us experience it. The major reason we dread public speaking is the fear of what others think. That is, we think they think we’re not speaking clearly, not making sense or we’re dressed inappropriately. Thus our brains flood with negative thoughts. Others exercise power over us whether they intend or not.  

Most colleges require a public speaking course for two reasons. Most of us will do presentations throughout life and should have some familiarity with research and organization. Also, we gain confidence in a supportive environment.

Interestingly, the Apostle Paul urged us to make a speech that could bring fearful consequences.

Paul planned to visit Rome and wrote the letter to the Romans as an introduction to his theology. In chapter 10, he insisted two things were necessary for salvation: believing in our hearts in the risen Christ and declaring his lordship.

The foundation of our faith is the Easter event. Jesus’s resurrection validates his claims and the power of God. We yet talk about “heart-felt” belief. This belief leads to commitment when we acknowledge his lordship. 

Modern translations alter the familiar King James Version words a bit in Romans 10:9, and this rendering is closer to what Paul taught. Saving faith also means we declare with our lips, “Jesus is Lord.”

The unifying affirmations in the Roman Empire were “Caesar is lord” and “We have no king but Caesar.” Sometimes the Roman caesars claimed to be gods. Historians write about the cult of emperor worship. But followers of Jesus made a new commitment -- not “Caesar is Lord,” but “Christ is Lord.”

We believe those in the assemblies who wished to follow Jesus stood and spoke this declaration. Then they were brought to baptism and instructed in discipleship.

Roman citizens knew their lordship transfer could bring dire consequences since Christianity came to be viewed as a threat to the Empire. Followers of Christ were arrested, and many were martyred because of their new allegiance.

Our commitment to his lordship may bring sobering consequences, too. Christians are called to a new standard of belief and practice that may go against the grain of public opinion. But there’s no other option. The old adage is “Christ will be lord of all, or he won’t be lord at all.” 

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.

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