October 30, 2012

Stand // Day 12

Standing When It’s Politically Incorrect

We must obey God rather than men!” Acts 5:29

Political correctness has reshaped much of our expression of faith today. Not all of it has been a bad thing. The objection to our faith should be from the content of our message not the character of the messengers. The Bible teaches us that the Gospel will be an offense to some and a stumbling block to others. Even though that offense may be directed at the messenger as it was toward Christ, like Christ, we are called to suffer with a gracious spirit, without retaliating, just as Jesus did. In fact, Peter said in 1 Peter 2:19-23 (NLT)

“For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you. For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone. He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.”

Peter learned this in the furnace of suffering when he took a stand that was politically incorrect in his day. It was one of the first waves of persecution against the infant church found in Acts 4. Peter and John had just gone to the Temple for afternoon prayer and encountered a lame man beside the Temple gate who was placed there everyday to beg for a living. This day would be unlike any other for this poor lame beggar. When he asked Peter and John for money, they gave him something far greater! They prayed for him in the name of Jesus, and the man was instantly healed! Overwhelmed with joy, since he had been lame from birth, he entered the Temple with Peter and John jumping and dancing with excitement! Imagine the commotion in the Temple that afternoon for what may have otherwise been a somber time of prayer. Never before had those in the prayer gathering witnessed such a spectacle! You might say it rocked the flock! It gave Peter the platform to speak and share with those at the Temple the Word of Life and the power in the name of Jesus, setting the record straight that it was not their power but the resurrected Christ whom the Jews had condemned on the cross who healed the lame man.

Despite the obvious miracle that had taken place, the religious leaders were offended by Peter’s message. While he was speaking to the people, they arrested them and threw them in jail! The next day, Peter and John were brought before the religious council and interrogated about the miracle and their message. They were ordered to stop preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter boldly responded in Acts 4:12 saying, “There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”

Despite how politically incorrect it was for Peter and John to preach and teach in the name of Jesus, they took their stand. Peter’s resolve was uncompromising. In Acts 5, following a miraculous escape from prison, they were back before the same council being interrogated once again but with much harsher threats to censure the name of Christ and the message of the Gospel to which Peter responded, “We must obey God rather than men.” (vs. 29)

When political correctness requires that we compromise the message of the Gospel and the name of Jesus, we can take heart in the example of Peter. We can take our stand with grace and leave the results to God even if it means we may suffer for His name. How much more did He suffer for us! This moment in Peter’s life shaped his destiny as a disciple. There was a time when he bowed to the pressure of being a Christ follower and denied His name, but never again! He had experienced the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit emboldening him with courage to stand. Let the same Holy Spirit embolden you. Never be ashamed of the Gospel or the name of Jesus. It is the power of God that brings salvation and hope to a hopeless world.