5:40 And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
The other day I saw a picture of men being tortured and killed and it said something like "The disciples made up the story of His resurrection to take advantage of all the perks."
It isn't that I envy them or want to see those days and events repeated. What takes my breath away is not what they had to go through but their attitude in it. Lots of people even to this day get beaten and tortured for political reasons and religious reasons. That is nothing new. It may be fairly foreign to our North American culture but in some places it is fairly commonplace.
What is not common is for men to count such suffering a privilege and to boldly put themselves in harms way over and over because for them nothing else matters. That is the part I envy, the "nothing else matters" part. They were excited that they could suffer for His sake. They would not cease making Him known in every way and in every place they could.
Somewhere along the way, and I'm not sure where, Christianity became a private matter. When I was beginning my ministry as a pastor in Cape Breton I joined the local ministerial. The leaders of the 4 largest churches in town belonged to it and then there was me. I could tell lots of stories about that but the only one I'm going to tell today was that a proposal was made to ban any church in town from sharing their beliefs publicly. They would not be able to take literature from house to house, rent a public building to hold meetings or do anything to share their faith beyond their own walls. Thankfully it never amounted to anything but this proposal came from a pastor, a preacher, a man who should be walking in the footsteps of Peter, James, and John.
That proposal sounded more like what the council came up with. It sounds like the idea of someone who is trying to protect their turf.
I envy the disciples. They came to the profound realization that nothing but Jesus matters. Self-preservation was not even on their radar any more. Building a religion was not their goal. Being popular was not their goal. Making money was not their goal. None of those things were even on the list. They had one singular focus. Jesus must be revealed to everyone and anyone who will listen. If it meant inconvenience or suffering or even death it didn't concern them in the least. We can tell by their prayer life that the only concern they had for themselves is that they weren't being bold enough.
Typically those are words we think of as negative but not in this case. The people were drawn to them just as they had been drawn to Jesus. Are people drawn to Christianity today? Are we attracting people simply because of who and what we are?
If we aren't there can be only one explanation. We are not like Him.
My prayer is that God will do whatever it takes to change that. It's time for His people to become His people and reignite the fire that turned Jerusalem upside down in Acts 5. The world needs Him and we can't share Him unless we have Him bursting from every pore in our bodies.