One of the biggest fears I battle as a writer is of “being found out.”
You see, I have no credentials, really. No degree to vouch for my knowledge, no wealth of experience in the marketplace to give me a portfolio that I can offer for your inspection.
I’m just a wife and mom. I’m a middle-aged, homeschooling southern girl who has loved to put words together since the sixth grade. And I am a believer in Jesus.
But I’m also a student. Always seeking and learning, I peruse the Bible almost daily, comparing translations, exploring apologetics, reading and gleaning from the research and knowledge of those who do have the credentials and portfolios.
Most importantly, I have the Holy Spirit…my teacher and yours if you have surrendered your life to the risen Christ.
Today I was reading in Acts 18 and I felt a kinship with Apollos:
A Jew named Apollos, a native Alexandrian, an eloquent man who was powerful in the use of the Scriptures, arrived in Ephesus. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught the things about Jesus accurately, although he knew only John’s baptism. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. After Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home and explained the way of God to him more accurately. When he wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers wrote to the disciples urging them to welcome him. After he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace. For he vigorously refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating through the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts 18:24-28 HCSB
Apollos reminds me a lot of myself. He was passionate, good with words, and intent on sharing what the Lord had taught him with the world around him, but he lacked an important credential in the eyes of many believers:
He had not been baptized in the Holy Spirit. Matthew Henry says this:
“Though he had not the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, as the apostles, he made use of the gifts he had…He was a lively, affectionate preacher; fervent in spirit. He was full of zeal for the glory of God and the salvation of precious souls. Here was a complete man of God, thoroughly furnished for his work.” (emphasis mine)
What a relief! Apollos did not let what some might consider lack to stop him. He didn’t know it all, most likely did not have perfect theology, but he knew Jesus is the son of God who had died and been raised to life. Apollos taught what he knew!
How many times have I held back out of fear that someone would challenge my words, asking questions that I might not be able to answer? How often have I compared myself to other writers who have accomplished great literary achievements while I was blogging between teaching my kids about Christopher Columbus and trying to get them to stop eating their boogers?
But those years of waiting, those seasons of introspection and teaching of the simplest things, were God’s training ground for what I am doing now. He taught me to find my voice, little by little, breaking down the wall of fear and coaxing me ever forward. He showed me a greater purpose for this gift, one that may not win awards but it just might win souls.
After spending the entire morning thinking about Apollos, I realized there are four goals I can work toward based on what I read about him in Acts 18.
Goal #1: Be instructed in the way of the Lord.
I must never stop learning about the things of God. After 25 years of walking with Christ (some years better than others!) I am continually amazed at the bombshells He drops into my life when I spend real, quality time studying the Bible. I am convinced we cannot fully grow in the Spirit without the discipline of Bible study.
I’m talking about moving beyond devotionals. I enjoy a good devotional, but we need more. We need to go deep, to explore and dig into the word of God so that it can cut through our facade and get to the heart of who we are and what He wants for us. By the way, I can assure you it will take more than five minutes.
Don’t tell me you don’t have time.
I said that once, then Facebook was invented.
I apparently had plenty of time.
Goal #2: Be fervent in Spirit
Complacency kills. When being a Christian is a “fun fact” about me and not the core of who I am as a woman, God is reverted to being “the man upstairs” and Jesus to a friend who makes me feel good about myself. But fervency means I am pressing in, letting the fire of the Holy Spirit refine me and correct my path as I walk with God. It means I say no to things that interfere with the calling God has placed on my life and yes to His calling even when I am quaking in my boots. It means I spend large quantities of time on my knees and seek the heart of my Father through prayer and fasting. (I know what you are going to say…remember my aforementioned point about Facebook, or you can insert Instagram or Snapchat if that’s your jam.) I have to put Him first and recognize that Candy Crush (or whatever time-sucker you choose) probably isn’t going to draw me deeper into fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
Goal #3: Speak and teach accurately the things concerning Jesus.
Have you noticed the trend to redefine Jesus Christ these days? There are myriads of teachers who are off just a hair, leading the masses into error because “most” of what they say is really good and the stuff that is off base is deemed to be no big deal in the big picture of Christianity.
But what if it is a really big deal?
In a recent sermon our pastor gave an illustration that brings the importance of Biblical accuracy to light. If a pilot flies around the world and is off by only 1 degree, he would miss his landing target by 435 miles. He would not even be close to the landing strip, aiport, city and possibly even STATE where he wanted to land!
Accuracy matters. Appolos taught what he knew until he knew more. Which leads me to my next goal:
Goal #4: Be teachable and willing to learn from fellow Christians who are ahead of me in the game.
I don’t have a theology degree or a degree in apologetics. I don’t even have a degree in writing! But, as my kids have learned in music class, perfect practice makes practice perfect.
In order to teach and write well I must seek instruction from those who are solid in their relationship with God, full of the Holy Spirit, strong in theology and intellect and committed to absolute accuracy when teaching the Bible. And I must allow them to correct me when I am wrong, just as Apollos did. Verse 26 says, “When Priscilla and Aquilla heard his teaching, they took him home and explained the way of God more accurately.”
Apollos’ response wasn’t, “Fine, I give up. I suck at this. I should never have tried teaching about Jesus!” Instead, he pressed forward, eager to cross to Achaia to continute what he had been doing but, now, with more knowledge and accuracy! And the Bible says in verse 27 that when Apollos arrived in Achaia he was a great help to those who had believed.
Isn’t that the goal? Isn’t the whole reason God gives us gifts to bless and grow the Church?
What is a gift you long to develop? What holds you back? Pray for God to use it, to use you. Seek ways to use the gifts you have kept on the backburner. Trust Him when He says “go” and do it. It’s ok if you are doing it scared, but you must do it! And when a fellow Christian pulls you aside to correct an error, receive it with grace and gratitude. The better we are armed, the more effective the fight!
God wants to use you. I guarantee it.