Earlier this year, in June, I experienced a first. Let me walk you through the moment. I was preaching at the North Hills Church of God in Springfield, Ohio, as I do every Sunday. At this point in time, our church chose to worship outside because there were a lot of unknowns of the Coronavirus. There were very strict rules in place to help prohibit the spread of the virus. During my message, a police officer slowly pulled through our long driveway and checked what was taking place. For a split second, I thought that I was maybe going to get in trouble for hosting a large group gathering. I thought I could get in trouble for preaching to a group of people. It was the first time in my life that I ever wondered whether or not I would get in trouble with preaching God’s Word.
To say that we have it pretty easy in the United States is quite the understatement. I praise God that we have the freedom to share God’s Word with others without even having the fear of being persecuted. I have spent all of maybe 5 seconds in my life thinking that I could get in trouble/persecuted for sharing God’s word. If I had to guess, I would say that most people reading this would have a similar experience to myself. There are people today who do not have this luxury, and this was especially true in the book of Acts
In Acts chapter 4, our heroes, Peter and John, were sharing God’s Word with others. When they did this, they were arrested and presented before the Jewish council. The council questioned Peter and John, and the council commanded them to no longer share the good news about Jesus and remain silent.
I absolutely love Peter and John’s reply to this command to remain silent: “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard,” (Acts 4:19,20). Burn baby to you, council! Peter and John made it obvious to the council, that they must listen to the voice of God over the voice of men. They had to preach the good news of Jesus, for that is what God wanted them to do, not the council. Peter and John did not care what the consequences would be for preaching about Jesus.
Peter and John were eventually released after receiving more threats from the council. Word got out of what had taken place to Peter and John. The Christ followers responded by praying to God for boldness. The early Christ followers did not succumb to the external pressures of the world. Rather, they prayed to God and came together as one to share this radical message of the Messiah.
These Jesus followers gave their all to further spread this message. They were even willing to contribute all of their possessions to spread the knowledge of Jesus the Messiah, and that is literally what they did. They pooled all of their possessions together for the good of the gospel message (outside of a few greedy people *cough* Ananias and Sapphira *cough*).
My oh my! Imagine what good we could accomplish today if we had the same mindset of the Jesus followers in Acts. These people had no cares in the world what would happen to them for sharing the gospel message, even though the threat was very real and evident. All they did was pray for more boldness, and it didn’t stop with just their voices either. They were willing to give all of their possessions to help spread this gospel message.
What great examples these early Jesus followers provide for us today. In comparison, today, we seem to be a whole lot more reserved in our approach to spread this gospel message. Maybe we should take a note from the early church and take some more extreme measures in our life to spread the gospel message. If we do, God can work so many wonderful wonders in and through us.
Be bold and give it all to God!
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 4-6
Tomorrow we continue the exciting, inspiring historical account of the early church with Acts 7-8. Come read along!