Saturday, January 23, 2010

Strength From The Struggle -- Acts 4

So Peter and John, healed a man who had been crippled for more than 40 years, and the religious leaders of the day were not thrilled about it. Their discontent was two fold, one they were not involved with such a work of God, and two the name of Jesus was being lifted up. Remember these were the people who strategized and planned for months looking for a way to kill Jesus. They thought they had been successful, and the Way which Jesus lead would simply fade away.

Peter and John are brought before the High Priest and the whole council for examination. Peter being himself, boldly proclaims to the council their work is done in Jesus name. Now the council was in quite a pickle. They could not deny the miraculous healing, as people witnessed it, nor could they allow the disciples to continue their work. So, the end result was a severe tongue lashing, and the edict to not proclaim the name of Jesus Christ ever again. Here we have the fist major incident of persecution of the church. The established religious people of the day commanding the Followers to not speak of or in Jesus' name again.

I love the result this has on the people of Jesus. the shout and pray all the louder. They continue their work with a renewed level of zeal and passion. The struggle has seemed to make them stronger. I wonder what would happen if the rulers of our day, religious or otherwise, proclaimed that no one was allowed to speak the name of Jesus? We can see the effect it had on the followers in Acts 4, would we respond the same? There was no court battle, there was not public smear campaign, no boycotts of protests, none of it. The people simply went about proclaiming the name of Jesus. Persecution made the church stronger.

Perhaps it is time for some persecution in our day. Or perhaps the persecution has already come and we are shying away. As a society we are told it is not politically correct, or that we might offend others if we speak the name of Jesus, and we are listening. Just the opposite reaction than those in Acts 4. Oh that the church would once again respond to persecution like those who have gone before us.

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