Persecution heats up as the Apostles continue to carry out their mission of being witnesses to Jesus and His resurrection. What about you? How are you being a witness? What’s your story?
I think sometimes Christianity is caricatured as something for those who are soft or weak…those not strong enough to stand on their own. But our passage today shows that the Apostles are anything but weak. Not only do they stand up to the most powerful men in their society…not promoting their own agenda but proclaiming Jesus…but they are also willing to suffer the humiliation of both jail and a public whippin’ for Jesus. And so much more. “If church traditions are correct, Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome, Matthew suffered martyrdom by the sword. John was scarred in a cauldron of boiling oil and lived his last days banished on an island. James was beheaded in Jerusalem, Paul in Rome…and the list goes on and on.
I wonder if we are willing to suffer for our faith…or do we let fear (or our comfort and/or our convenience) overcome our courage when it comes to following Jesus? When we trusted in Jesus, when we committed to following Him, we were not choosing the safest or easiest or most convenient or comfortable way through life, but the most dangerous, inconvenient, challenging yet rewarding path. We are traitors to the god of this world…our allegiance is to the true King. We live in enemy territory…potential for danger at every turn. Sometimes we forget that and want to take the safe route. But Jesus didn’t come to just rearrange the furniture in our lives…He came to change everything. And when Jesus begins to change everything, we will be at odds with the world around us. Jesus calls us, not to live a safe life, but a dangerous life…a life that gives testimony to the great God and true King we serve. But you know, it’s really not that dangerous…Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us. And if He requires us to pay the ultimate price, isn’t life in the kingdom so much better than life in this fallen world? Remember Jesus’ parable of the minas from Luke 19? The servant who gained the ten minas didn’t do it by being afraid, but by being bold. By risking everything for the gospel he gained everything, while the servant who played it safe lost it all.
We are called to live out our faith and share our testimony with others at every God-given opportunity. Dare to ask God to provide you with the opportunity and He will, but will you be ready?
Persecution is a-coming. You don’t have to look for it…the more you look like Jesus, the more folks will treat you like Him. Some will be attracted to you, but most will reject you.
This is some hard stuff…suffering before glory always is. But we have to remember that this world is not our home, and it’s values are not our values. So we will be at odds most times. That’s ok, because when we choose God’s side, we never lose.
“The Christian is a holy rebel loose in the world with access to the throne of God. Satan never knows from what direction the danger will come.” Tozer That Incredible Christian. Pray we will be dangerous Christians.
Until next time…stay salty.
This post is based on a sermon from our Acts series. Download the podcast at: Central Christian Church Main Service, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter: @ccclancaster