Summary: Where do we turn when the world stands against us? Here are some thoughts that come from the early church response to opposition.
There’s an old spiritual song- It’s Me Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer- and that’s how our drama concludes. We began with Peter and John healing the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate and continued as Peter and John stood on trial. Today, we’re going to look at how the church responded. Read Acts 4:23-31.
When there are struggles, we must first go to God. As soon as the church received the report of what the Jewish leaders had done to Peter and John, they began to pray. How often today are we just the opposite? We hear about a problem and come up with solutions until all our ideas run out and then, and only then, do we tend to turn to God as a last resort. You can ask my wife- I’m a typical guy. When there’s a problem, I like to figure it out, I like to formulate a plan. But after several times of trying to fix problems she only wanted me to hear out (and we all know how that goes), I’ve had to learn what happens to the best laid plans of mice and men. So go to God first, the answer will often present itself with little to no action on our part.
When there are problems, we must remember God’s promises. We see here as the church prayed, they recalled the prophecy that had been spoken through David. Worldly leaders would gather to stand against God and His anointed one. Just months before this prayer meeting, they had watched Herod, Pilate, and the Jewish leaders of Jerusalem conspire against Jesus. They recalled that both the crucifixion and the resurrection of Jesus were in God’s plan. So what are some of these promises we can turn to when we’re facing problems? Check out these passages and hold on to hope:
When there is opposition, we must pray for boldness. Notice what they didn’t pray for- they didn’t ask for protection from their enemies, they didn’t ask God to replace the leadership that stood against them. They prayed that they would stand in boldness and that they could continue to perform miracles that would glorify Jesus. We live in an American society that promotes tolerance for everyone but Christians, or so it seems. In fact, during the last election cycle, I received a letter from the ACLU reminding me of what I can and cannot do in regards to the election if we want to maintain our tax exempt status. As we face a growing intolerance to our faith, may we stand like the believers in Acts. Allow me to close today with this poem which reflects the kind of boldness we need to stand today.
Fellowship of the Unashamed
I am part of the "Fellowship of the Unashamed." The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.
I no longer need pre-eminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I now live by presence, lean by faith, love by patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power. My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions few, my Guide reliable, my mission clear. I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted, or delayed.
I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of mediocrity.
I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until Heaven returns, give until I drop, preach until all know, and work until He comes. And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me because my colors will be clear.