Wednesday, June 26, 2019
Here’s a question to ask to diagnose if you are suffering from the debilitating disease of apathy.
How can people be so consumed with passion that they are willing to suffer personal harm and loss for the sake of the cause in which they believe?
The person that criticizes someone else’s convictions is probably questioning his own. The person that condemns passionate belief in a cause probably has no cause of his own in which to believe. The person who hates fans and fanatics is probably suffering from pride that wishes everyone else saw life and the world the way they do. At the very least, the person who does not boldly engage the culture with his belief system is a coward seeking to protect what little value he believes he has.
The Apostles were no such people. They had encountered the resurrected Christ and been filled with His Holy Spirit, and they were boldly proclaiming the Good News with no concern for personal pain or loss.
Acts 5:40-42 They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.
Every day we see stories of people who boldly take action based on their belief system. One man believed so strongly in his right to be first on the roadways of our city that when he was allegedly “cut off” by another driver he proceeded to ram her car and cause an accident, resulting in his arrest and potential 5-year prison sentence.
We consistently see examples all around us of people offending others and being offended by others because of what they believe in. Fans of football teams travel to the opponent’s home field wearing the loudest and boldest affirmations of support for their team, hoping to offend and rile up the fans of the opponent, with no fear of personal pain or loss. We see people boldly and loudly stating their position on political issues without fear of retribution in the hope that they can sway another’s point of view. We have chosen our non-negotiable passions and we will fight to the death to protect them – football, politics, and personal rights, just to name a few.
But what has happened to cause the Christian to back down from the fight to proclaim the Good News no matter what the personal pain or loss? Why does the witnessing of our day not resemble the witnessing of the Apostles?
Let’s assume Peter and the other apostles were living today and had been called into court to answer to a charge of public disruption for teaching and preaching the Gospel on the steps of the county courthouse. They are convicted, and are sentenced to 30 days in jail (because we no longer flog). If we apply to them the same pattern of behavior of many Christians today, how would they act after their release from confinement?
First, they would stop talking about Jesus in public for fear of another arrest, knowing that second offenses carry a stiffer penalty. Second, they would find a church to attend that was politically correct so as not to offend the society around them. Then, as their fears continue to tighten their grip on their lives, they would change their lifestyle so that they looked like everyone else to escape any consequences of their now watered-down beliefs.
How sad it is when the witnesses of the resurrected Christ bow before the idol of society and choose to worship personal safety and prosperity. But we do it all the time. We seek not to offend, and we certainly don’t want to be offended. We want to be tolerated so we adopt the tolerance of all other viewpoints. We choose silence, and if not silence we choose a contemporary model of witnessing that the Gospel is to be viewed as just another opinion and not as the absolute truth.
We are the witnesses of the resurrected Christ. May we never stop going door-to-door and into the public places of our society with the Good News that Jesus is alive and saves people from their sin. Do it wisely, but do it!
“See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that offends, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”