Summary: What is it about active, vital believers that is so threatening to popular culture?
One of my favorite television episodes of “The Twilight Zone” television series was a humorous episode where the entire plot revolved around a misunderstanding with an alien species and culminated in the discovery of a book. The title of that book was “To Serve Man” and the misunderstanding was that instead of being a book about humanitarian service, it was an alien cookbook.
In our world today, there are similar misunderstandings—although they are not as humorous. Some individuals, groups, and movements in our world today believe that they are “serving humanity” by destroying the Biblical worldview—removing the shackles of superstition, ignorance, tradition, and moral oppression. It is the worldview of the secular humanists that our belief in God, our confidence in the Christian lifestyle, our hope of eternal life, our expectation of answered prayer through God’s miraculous intervention, and our obedience to God precludes logical thinking, scientific advance, social justice, world peace, or their idea of freedom.
In a way, as Pastor Rod Parsley observed in a book that Ian loaned me, Culturally Incorrect: How Clashing Worldviews Affect Your Future, today’s worldview isn’t that different from the Sadducees of Jesus’ day. Parsley engages in a bit of word play that goes like this (The Sadducees did not believe in heaven, in angels, or in the supernatural—that is why they were sad, you see?” (p. 55).
And that little idea leads us into today’s text. Who was it in Acts 5:17 that stirred up the High Priest and Council against the apostles? The Sadducees! And what had stirred them up in the first place? The apostles were healing people and liberating those who were demon-possessed. That’s impossible, according to the worldview of the Sadducees. The apostles preached Jesus as risen from the dead and, since the Sadducees did not believe in an afterlife—much like today’s postmodern nihilists and materialists who say, “This is all there is!”—of course, that was impossible. The apostles were leading the people away from the logic, order, and convenience of the Jewish religion and into the unknown, the unexpected, and the exciting world of the Christian faith. In order to “serve man,” if you will, they wanted to stop these apostles and their messy gospel for good. If they had been successful, the forces of evil would have eaten us alive. And as it is now, we face a similar circumstance. So, let’s get our marching orders from Acts 5:27-42. (Read it/Pray).
Now, See What You’ve Done
Every parent or grandparent has had the experience of telling a little child to be careful fiddling with a straw with a full glass of milk, Coke, or tea or telling them not to spin or jump around when there is a bowl of cereal, soup, or anything else messy to spill. If the child doesn’t obey, and I bet you wonder how I know this so recently (our grandson was visiting us), it isn’t long before you point to the mess and say, “Now, look what you’ve done! Didn’t I tell you to be careful with that straw or stop that jumping around?”
Now, that is pretty much what the religious authorities are telling Peter and the apostle in verse 28. They had given them specific instructions and now, the disastrous results had taken place. The Greek verb used in verse 28 conveys the idea that the apostles had filled Jerusalem to overflowing with the teaching about Jesus. And then, at the close of the verse, they reveal their real motives, “and you want to make us responsible for His death!” (Good News Bible) [literally, “to bring the blood of this man upon us”]
Let’s consider this idea in reverse order. The religious authorities are not comfortable with the fact that they may have made the wrong decision about Jesus. But, as is becoming all too often the norm in modern society, instead of facing up to their failure, they attempt to cover it up by shushing up the apostles and don’t actually accomplish anything to better their circumstances. In the same way, those who are hostile to the gospel in today’s world aren’t comfortable with their wrong decisions, either. We call those wrong decisions—sin!
The world doesn’t want to be reminded that God might have a better plan for the lives of individuals than they have for themselves. The world doesn’t want to be reminded that selfish behavior is destructive to us as individuals and to those around us—eventually, even to society as a whole. The sexual revolution brought about plenty of disease and unwanted children, as well as broken families and children with low self-esteem. Wholesale abortion and violence as a bad solution to many problems have given our society the idea that life is cheap. Yet, we don’t want to admit that racism, that oppressive working conditions and living conditions for the poor, that violent outbursts like Columbine and Virginia Tech, that government corruption in both parties, that the lack of discipline for schoolchildren, and the crisis in American homes has anything to do with our disregard of God’s will and God’s purpose for our lives as taught in the Bible.