The Call of the Gospel (PARRESIAS AKOLYTOS)

The book of Acts ends with two Greek words: parresias akolytos (boldness unhindered).  It is an ironic ending given how the book begins:  a group of disciples, some of whom had recently abandoned or denied their teacher, gathered in an upper room in a city of little consequence in the Roman Empire. But God specializes in reversals and what would seem impossible at the beginning becomes inevitable in hindsight—the gospel spreading through Rome, the center of the world, to the ends of the earth.

For the past year, I have been meditating on these last two words. Several things come to mind:

  1. It is not how you begin but how you end that matters.
  2. We should always begin with the end in mind.
  3. We are the legacy of their obedience and boldness nearly 2000 years later.
  4. I want this to be my legacy that I pass on to others.

Matt Lucas

Dr. Matt Lucas
Chancellor IWU National & Global

What I also find interesting about the phrase is how the disciples expressed and experienced it.  They did not begin with some grand act; rather boldness unhindered was the summation of a series of small acts of obedience—being willing to go through doors and gates as the Holy Spirit directed. 

We see this pattern in the very beginning at Pentecost as Peter had to leave the upper room in order to give his sermon, and from that moment on we see Jesus’ followers going through doors:  John and Peter entering the Beautiful Gate and healing the lame man, John and Peter put in jail and then coming before the court of the Sanhedrin, blind Saul entering the house on Straight Street in Damascus and reluctant Ananias entering the same house to visit him, Peter going into the room to restore Dorcas to life, Peter answering the door after his vision on the rooftop and following the visitors, Peter going into a Gentile’s home (Cornelius), Paul and Barnabas entering a boat to begin their first journey.

This is how the gospel moved from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. As I think about these two words, several points are worth considering:

  1. Boldness unhindered is simply obedience.
  2. Boldness unhindered is not done in our own power, but through the empowering Holy Spirit.
  3. Boldness unhindered is the call of the gospel—the first two letters in gospel spell go.

At National & Global, we encounter doors every day.  We serve as doormen/women, opening doors of opportunities to our students so they can enter new arenas, pursue new experiences and achieve new accomplishments. This is best expressed in our mission to change the world by developing students in character, scholarship and leadership.

Sometimes the doors are for us to enter as adventurers. God has called us to walk through new doors so that we can embody and express the gospel to a dying world.  For us, education is a means to spread the gospel, whether here in Marion, or Indiana, or the United States or the ends of the earth.

In order to be effective doormen/women and adventurers, we need qualities that are true about us, individually and corporately.

Becoming over being

Rather than focus on who we have been or are, we will need to embrace a future-oriented mindset so that we are ready to meet the ever-changing needs and challenges of the future.  Another way to say this is:

  1. Who we are today is not who we need to be tomorrow.
  2. Who our students are today is not who they need to be tomorrow.
  3. What our processes are today is not what they will be tomorrow.

Loving over serving

Rather than serve our students and each other, we will need to sacrifice our comforts and expectations for the sake of our students and colleagues so that they can experience the grace and privileges we have in Christ.

Serving is transactional; loving is relational. To do this well, we need to be:

  1. Misunderstood.
  2. Willing to get messy as others’ shortcomings and failings create unexpected difficulties.
  3. Uncomfortable and inconvenienced. 

Excelling over improving

Rather than be satisfied with incremental improvements, we will need to pursue quality in all endeavors so that our students can be their best selves.  Students cannot be greater than their teachers.

This means we will have to be:

  1. Learners and curious.
  2. Coaches and encouragers.
  3. Teachable and non-defensive.

Diversifying over broadening

Rather than simply add more people, perspectives, and/or programs, we will need to change fundamentally so that we are adept at engaging any social, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, technological or other contexts.

  1. We will have to realize that none of us have all the answers.
  2. We will have to let go of things we hold dear.
  3. We will look and sound different. 

I am excited about the future of IWU—National & Global, and I am looking forward to entering the doors before us with you.

Indiana Wesleyan University
4201 S. Washington St.
Marion, IN 46953