Act 5 – Scene 2
We think we have it tough with what some call political correctness, or as some have commented on, an anti-Christian agenda within the media or politics. We have seen a number of reports in recent months of Christians being put on trial whether it was for praying for a patient, wearing a cross or hoteliers who would not allow homosexual couples stay in there B&B. Now it is not my intention to comment on any of the above cases in this post but safe to say when these things happen some Christians are quick to call it persecution, is it really? Maybe, but when you read stories like these listed here it kind of puts what some in the our country endure into perspective a little. While not wanting to belittle what the people involved in these cases have gone through, there are varying degrees of scale.
Persecution is nothing new to Christians; Jesus faced it, the apostles faced it, and those in the early church faced it, so we should not be surprised by it, but ask God for grace to endure it and learn from it when we face it. Easy to say, but by the grace of God there are those, many of them, who have survived and sometimes not by his grace in persecution.
Before looking at the events in the chapter 5, let me just say that persecution is not because we do something stupid, it is suffering for our faith in Christ and for his name sake.
In Acts 5:12-42 we see that the apostles were put in prison, by the religious leaders for preaching Christ and healing people in his name.
“17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.”
That very night, an angel appeared and set them free so that the next day they could continue their mission as set by Jesus. I think this is brilliant; I would have loved to have been there to see the faces of the religious leaders, wouldn’t you? I wonder what was going through the apostle minds as they were sat in prison. Scripture doesn’t give the impression that they were worried or scared, does it? In fact as we read in their second trial before religious leader (v22-32) Peter seems to talk with great boldness and courage. He basically tells them they would obey God’s command and call on their lives, before they would listen to them and their request to stop preaching.
In today’s world not much has changed, we are still told to shut up (so to speak) and stop talking about Jesus, so much so that nurses amongst other professions, run the risk of disciplinary procedures if they talk to people about the hope found in Jesus. Does this mean we should stop and not share out faith? No, we just need to be smarter, but be confident in the message and discern the opportunities that the Holy Spirit opens for us.