S (Scripture): Acts 12:1 About that time (circa a.d. 42-43) King Herod laid hands on some from the church to harm them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, executed with a sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too. (This took place during the feast of Unleavened Bread.) 4 When he had seized him, he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but those in the church were earnestly praying to God for him.
O (Observation): The early church certainly knew struggle. Peter was telling the church that Gentiles were just as welcome to become followers of Jesus as were the Jewish people. This certainly got the Jewish Christians riled up, not to mention the Jewish people themselves.
As King Herod started to put pressure on the Christians, like Peter, the king saw how the Jewish people reacted positively. Making a political move, King Herod decided to put even more pressure on the followers of Jesus. Herod arrested Peter, and planned on putting him on trial.
A (Application): We think we’ve got it bad here as Christians in America? Just read the text above from Acts 12. I don’t buy into the “Christians are being oppressed” stuff that a lot of folks bemoan. In some ways, I welcome the challenge.
Can’t say “under God” in the pledge. We have “moments of silence” rather than prayer time in schools. Can’t hang the 10 Commandments in the courthouses.
I get it.
But when did we have to rely on public institutions to do the work of making disciples? When did we hand the reins over to politicians to decide how the Christian faith was to be lived out and taught to our children?
Oh wait…we didn’t. Or at least, we didn’t mean to.
Passing on the faith to my children is the responsibility of me, my wife and my wider family, as well as the faith communities in which we are involved. All of us in the Christian community have the joy and duty of helping to raise folks in the faith. We do this not by only being a Sunday School teacher, but by also living out Christ’s love in your daily life. We share faith not just by attending worship, but also by cooking a meal for your sick neighbor.
We do not face the same challenges (in this country) of being persecuted for our faith, but I hear this sentiment quite a bit.
Instead of blaming and pointing fingers, figure out what role you are playing to help build up disciples where you are. Are you able to invest time in learning or teaching others the ways of discipleship? I am both a student of discipleship and one who leads other disciples.
If you are interested in taking a journey with me towards discipleship, committing to weekly times of growth and learning, please contact me through my Contact page. Let us have a conversation to see if you would like to work towards this lifelong task and joy of discipleship, so that you can go and make other disciples.
P (Prayer): Lord, you strengthen us for this journey of discipleship. Grant us courage and a heart full of your abundant grace. Amen.