"Everyone who acknowledges me before men I will acknowledge before the Father in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father in heaven." Matthew 10:31-32. My reading took me to this text today, and a sobering one it is. I am in Hamburg, NY, at Das Rally, the annual national BMW motorcycle gathering, surrounded by between six and seven thousand people and nearly as many bikes. I never knew there were so many models of BMW bikes! The vendors are busy, the money is flowing freely. I think some people have more money into their riding outfits than I have in my old Ural. And money is not the only thing freely flowing here. The beer concession is always packed. If I had a nickel for every glass they served up, I would go home a rich man.
But this text is before me. It bothers me; always has. My cousin Tom who invited me here is a gregarious guy. He told me, "You'll have a lot of fun, and meet a lot of great people." Well, he's right; I've met a lot of people, and am having a pretty good time. But I am an introvert, and striking up conversations with strangers is a lot of work for me.
And this text bothers me. Jesus didn't say, "Extroverts who acknowledge me before men I will acknowledge before the Father." He didn't say, "You introverts are exempt; you can keep your faith in me to yourself." His statement is pretty clear-cut, black and white. And it bothers me. I keep looking for opportunities, praying for boldness. One thing I know: God made me the way I am, and expects me to use the gifts he's given me. He doesn't expect me to be a street corner preacher, but he does expect me to open my mouth. Ron Hutchcraft has what he calls the "Three Open Prayer: Open the Doors, Open the Hearts, and Open My Mouth." That's what I'm praying, thankful tonight for the Scripture that challenges me and for a God who doesn't let me off the hook, even while he offers grace and guidance to do his will.