Summary: The indwelling of the Spirit gives people a conviction to proclaim a truth even in the face of unrelenting persecution and pressure. In the heat of the pressure will you continue to proclaim truth in the resurrected one?
INTRODUCTION: Recently I have been reading a book titled The Speed of Trust. While reading this book I came across this interesting fact. I found interesting because it makes me think about the condition of the Christian church these days. I am trying to decide if people have lost trust in the church. Or if the church has lost trust in God. Either way it does not seem like there are a lot of people walking with the boldness and conviction that we see in today’s scripture reading.
Do you remember the LA Riots in 1992? Over 50 people were killed in those riots and approximately 2300 people were injured. Most of us can recall the images of Reginald Denny being dragged out of his truck and beaten. We also remember the quote from Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along.” But did you know that during those riots, in the midst of everything that was happening. Not a single McDonald’s was touched. Over 1100 buildings were on fire or being destroyed, cars were being tipped over, windows were being smashed and stores being looted but not a single McDonald’s was touched.
People have asked how did the McDonald’s manage to get by untouched. The locals responded - McDonald’s had a reputation of supporting literacy initiatives and sports programs in the community. McDonald’s had always offered jobs to the youth in the area. What they were really saying, “We trust that McDonald’s has our back.”
When was the last time you heard someone from the community, not a member of this church, but just a random person from our community say, “We trust that First UMC has our back?”
Something happens when you come to a place of trust. In the midst of all the chaos and confusion trust allows you to see order and stability.
The disciples are walking in the midst of a firestorm. Jerusalem is getting ready to boil over with chaos and confusion. And God is positioning the disciples to be a source of trust and hope.
How about you? Do you feel like God is positioning you to be a source of trust and hope for someone in the midst of their chaos and confusion? Do you believe God is positioning our church to be a source of trust and hope for our community?
The religious leaders and the political leaders thought they had stopped the story of the resurrection, they thought they had terminated the talk of Jesus, but now in the very heart of the marketplace, in the wide open space for all the world to see - two disciples, Peter and John were talking about Jesus of Nazareth and no one was harming them, in fact, it appeared that the people were actually listening and believing them. It appeared that the people heard their story as a story of trust and hope.
BODY: The indwelling of the Spirit gives people a conviction to proclaim a truth even in the face of unrelenting persecution and pressure. In the military we have a saying - “What are you going to do shave my head and take away my birthday?” Meaning what else can you do to me that you haven’t already done. I have nothing to lose.
The disciples had witnessed the attempts to stop the story. They had seen Jesus beaten and crucified. They watched His body be placed in a cut out cave. They had fled Jerusalem believing that the story had been stopped. But then the Truth was revealed. Jesus stood in the midst of their chaos and confusion. They once again embraced the story, but this time they knew they would never run again. They knew there was no way to stop this story. They knew what Jesus meant when He said, “even the rocks will tell this story.
And so when the council of high priests, the very council who had surrendered Jesus to Pilate, ask the question, “What is this story that you are weaving in the streets of Jerusalem?” Peter and John tell the story! They are in effect saying, “We are going to tell you this story because even if you choose to kill us after telling this story it will still be told.”
Friends there is a saying, “You cannot put toothpaste back in the tube. You cannot saw sawdust and you cannot put spilt milk back in the bottle.” In other words you cannot put the body back in the tomb when the body is alive!
The religious leaders thought they could intimidate the disciples to silence the story, but God had determined that the story of trust and hope in the midst of chaos and confusion will be told. God had determined that nothing, not even death would stop the story from being told. Therefore the only way to stop the story is to prove the story false and for over 2,000 years no one has been able to disprove God’s story of love, forgiveness and grace. No one has been able to stop people from being sources of trust and hope in the midst of chaos and confusion. Nothing can stop the story especially when the story is standing right before their eyes (Acts 4:14)