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 Messiah.
I love that. They did not stop. They counted themselves fortunate to suffer dishonor for his name. It seems to take Christians so long to face up to the simple declaration of Scripture that, when they were called to be a Christian, they were called to suffer. As Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe in him, but also to suffer for him. (Philippians 1:29). We are called to this. Suffering is an integral part of the Christian experience. It is not something that is unusual or reserved for just a few; it is for all. Peter wrote, Do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Peter 4:12). Don’t think it is strange. You go through problems, difficulties, heartaches, disappointments, ostracism and coolness from others, all for the sake of the Name. Don’t think that is strange. It is that to which we are called.
In a world that is run by illusions, governed by deceptions, and is a victim of lies and maliciously evil falsehoods, what else can we expect if we stand for the truth? People will think we are strange, at times. People will think we react in funny ways. There will be some degree of coolness, even among those who are, in many other ways, friendly toward us. They will think we are a little odd. But it is they who are odd; it is we who are normal. When a normal person lives in a world full of oddballs, they think he’s odd. But that is the suffering to which he is called. Like these disciples, we ought to thank God for it and rejoice in it. Jesus said that, didn’t he? Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my name’s sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, … for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you… (Matthew 5:11-12 KJV).
The church, then, is not to wring its hands, and say, Oh what a terrible thing! We’re being opposed! What an awful thing! No! Rejoice, like these early Christians did. Count it an honor that you have been called to suffer a little for his name’s sake. Stand up and be counted.
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Father, help me to understand that we are the salt of the earth, we are the light of the world, and we must begin to act that way again.
When ‘truth has fallen in the public squares’ are we prepared to fulfill our calling to speak for Truth? Do we resist the forces of evil for Christ’s sake, in His wisdom and with His Truth?