Week 6 of The Way: a new series on the Book of Acts
Go Deeper Passage:
Roman Catholic Priest and Austrian Philosopher Ivan Illich was once asked, ‘What is the most revolutionary way to change society: Is it violent revolution or is it gradual reform?’ He gave a careful answer: ‘Neither. If you want to change society, then you must tell an alternative story.’
In Acts 4, the persecution of the church begins anew.
Peter and John had just been released from the Sanhedrin's interrogation. Everyone was in awe. God was being praised by all the people who saw The Spirit's miraculous works through the Apostles. This good work left the religious leaders with no choice but to sternly warn the disciples to not continue in the sharing of their good news. They told the officials that they wouldn't stop proclaiming the good news of Jesus. Punishment awaited if they did not stop.
This is the point where we have to look in the mirror.
It is one thing for us to experience God's grace enabling us to skirt social repercussions for being bold about our love for God. It is another thing when the crowd is praising God's people (or us) for the good they (we) are doing. It would be tempting for Acts to end here, wouldn't it? Call it a day. Pack it up. Remember that time that God did a miracle through us, someone was healed, and we proclaimed Christ boldly and somehow got away with it. That would be the beginning of our courage choosing death and not living in to the hope of the resurrection. Their story would have ended and you wouldn't have been reading this blog.
What did the disciples do? They doubled down. They choose to embrace an alternative story.
As Peter and John reported what God had down, they quickly went back to prayer. There prayers were truth-telling. They embedded themselves in God's self-sacrificial plan. In declaration of God's vision for Jesus to give all of himself for us, they prayed not for safety, church growth, or success. They didn't ask for a life free of suffering. Instead they asked for courage to move beyond safety. For power to keep proclaiming the hope they had. They prayed for power. They plead for boldness. They asked for courage.
And boy did they get it!
An earthquake shook the ground they were standing on. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the story of Jesus with boldness. They also told the alternative story of the gospel with their lives. They were more than safe. They were beyond comfortable. They weren't just empowered for a minute, but they became boldness personified. They were taken ahold of by God's story and lived life to the full. Selling possessions, they shared everything. They were of one mind and heart and power. They gave to any as they had need.
The church wasn't afraid of consequence but pursued an alternative story of courage.
What was your thinking/reaction in light of the early believers praying just for courage in light of their circumstances being threatened?
What causes your world to shake? Do you believe it is difficult or too scary to be honest about these thing? How could you become unshakable in the circumstances in your life?
What does it look like to help lead someone to Jesus, the unshakable rock in the midst of a world where people are shaken all the time?
Jesus: Ask God what type of story you are living in relationship with Jesus? Are you living a courageous story of following Jesus or imitating a story that's already been told? Give Him your story and ask the Spirit for power to live courageously with it.
People: Make a choice to re-orient your life around community this week. A way that fights off individualism and takes courage to trust others.
City: Do you see a need in our city? What would it mean for you and a few Christian friends to be of one heart and mind in powerfully serving this need with God's courage? Sign up to serve our city with us, share a meal with someone on the streets, or sell possessions and give to those who could use a hand up.