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Boldness and the Joy of the Beloved

I was listening to a presentation that Stan Grenz, Darryl Johnson, and Charles Ringma gave on the topic of Brian McLaren's “A Generous Orthodoxy” and the emerging Church “non-movement” and I was struck by Stan's opening prayer (Stan was another Christian leader who passed away this year — I hope to say more about this presentation in another post. Although I can't resist providing a teaser from Ringma. Ringma says that Brian is a “mischievous” fellow, and so, in that same spirit he comments, “Brian is like a kid in a lolly shop with twenty cents in his pocket. He wants to try everything — he licks every lolly — but he also plans on leaving with his twenty cents still in his pocket.” Or, “Don't even bother reading Brian's chapter on the seven different Jesuses. He's like a fellow who marries a woman that he is madly in love with — who then wants to tell you about each of his ex-girlfriends”).
Anyway, Stan opened his prayer in a traditional way speaking about being able to, through Jesus, enter boldly into the presence of the Father. For some reason this got me thinking about the whole notion of Christian boldness. And I think it must be rooted in the joy of the beloved. I always sort of pictured boldness like a sort of cockiness — because of Jesus we could swagger into God's presence and dare anybody to try to tell us otherwise. I've always associated boldness with a sort of Christian triumphalism or arrogance.
However, it is the boldness that stems from joy that is free of arrogance or fear. And this joy stems from being known as God's beloved. When one is beloved one does not hesitate to run into the presence of one's lover. There is no second guessing, no hesitation, no lingering or hanging back. Rather, “I am my beloved's and he is mine” and the joy that comes from this leads us to enter boldly into God's presence. It is as if love moves us beyond the categories of bravery and fear and into the categories of intimacy and delight.

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