Summary: Discipleship means giving Christ our best.
“Sold Out for Christ”
By: Rev. Kenneth Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview United Methodist Church,
Newport News, VA
Suppose someone threatened to kill you if you didn’t stop talking about God?
You might be tempted to keep quiet.
But after being threatened by powerful leaders, arrested, jailed, and miraculously released, the apostles went back to preaching.
This was nothing less than God’s power working through them!
The high priest and his associates gave Peter and the other apostles strict orders not to “teach” in Christ’s name…
…but “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than men!’”
In a lot of situations we are able to obey human rules and God at the same time; at least there is no conflict in our loyalty.
When we pay our bills, for example, we are obeying human laws, and at the same time we are obeying the moral laws of God.
The trouble comes when humans tell us to do one thing and God tells us to do the opposite.
That’s what happened to Peter and the other apostles’.
The authorities said: “Be quiet.”
God said: “Speak out.”
They couldn’t do both; they had to choose one or the other.
And they chose to do what God said, regardless of the consequences.
This kind of conflict in loyalties is one of the most testing and straining experiences that can come to an individual.
It goes right to the heart of what is the most important thing in a person’s life.
Is it more important to go along with the crowd…to just fit in…or stand out for the sake of Christ and what is right?
Do we stand up for what we believe in or do we sit down?
Is it more important to us to be seen by the world as successful or seen by God as faithful?
Do we care enough about the souls of men and women to tell them about the saving grace offered them by the Resurrected Christ—even if it means that we might be ridiculed by them or others for the sake of the Gospel?
As Christians, we live in this world community.
We take our part and place, we pay our bills, we reap our harvest of rewards, but we never altogether and completely belong here.
Because we have a loyalty that is above and beyond every other loyalty.
We are in this world, but we are not of this world.
The apostles knew their priorities.
While we should try to live at peace with everyone, conflict with the world and its authorities is sometimes inevitable for a Christian.
There will be situations where we cannot obey both God and people.
And when these situations come, we must obey God and trust His Word.
Let Jesus’ Words in Luke chapter 6 encourage us: “Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.”
In our Scripture Lesson for this morning we find Peter and the other apostles taking a courageous stand for Christ.
They were told repeatedly by the Sadducees to stop preaching the Good News, or they would suffer.
But the apostles were not intimidated.
They were so compelled and consumed by the power and purpose of the Gospel that they considered it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Jesus.
Do we consider it a privilege to suffer for the sake of Jesus?
As you know, Peter and the apostles hadn’t always lived such significant lives.
Let’s rewind just a little bit and see where it all started.
In the Gospel of Mark, we read that Simon (who would later be called Peter), and Andrew, James and John were fishing beside the Sea of Galilee.
Mark points out that James and John had hired men to help them.
So they must have been somewhat successful.
They had a growing business.
Yet Jesus came along and said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
Basically He was saying: “Drop your nets. You were made for more than this. There is a bigger enterprise to be part of than fishing for fish.
I am going to make you a fisher of people.
Follow me and you will be part of the divine enterprise which is bigger than any of you can imagine.
You are going to help me transform the world!”
This call was so powerfully potent that Peter and the others walked away from their business and comfortable lifestyles to follow Jesus.
They left the ordinary in order to do the extraordinary.
They said goodbye to mediocrity and said hello to God’s mission.
They could not resist the pull of ultimate meaning, purpose, and adventure.
Surely it was scary, but they were willing to take the leap of faith in order to be more than just average people, living an average life, achieving average goals.