Acts 4
There is a lot of talk today in our country about the rights we are losing, as the government reaches further into the lives of its citizens and seeks to govern even our core beliefs. This is an inherent end result of combining power and sinful humans. For all of history, powerful people have sought more power, and done great evil to gain or retain it. The same was true during the earliest days of the church in Jerusalem. There were many competing elements in the central political and religious hub of Palestine, and those who had seats at the table of power were determined to hold them. Into the swirling mess of Sadducees, Herodians, High Priests, and Pharisees, a growing movement emerged, full of believers in a crucified carpenter-rabbi from Nazareth. This group of “nobodies” was gaining traction and shaming the religious elite for killing the Messiah. Acts tells the remarkable story of the growth of this movement and chapter 4 is one of my favorite passages in the whole book.

After causing a stir in the Temple, Peter and John were brought before the high priest and other key power players and confronted about their teaching. Peter displays keen intellect, powerful conviction, and incredible boldness in the face of men who expected him to cow in their presence. Infuriated, but unable to find a way to punish them without angering the crowds, the Jewish leaders leveled severe threats and sent them away. Peter and John must have realized these threats were not entirely empty, because these were the same leaders who had figured out a way to have Jesus legally murdered by the Romans. However, their response to the threats was not one of fear, anger, or self-pity. After being released, they gathered the church and went to prayer instead.

Today, you may find yourself praying for our leaders, and for God to set this nation right and restore the freedoms we love and are grateful for. While these are good things to pray for, keep in mind the prayer of the early church in Acts 4:23-31. Instead of praying for God to strike down the evil leaders, or bring about political change that would make it easier to be a Christ follower, the church prayed for Boldness. They remembered what we often forget: until Jesus returns and establishes a Theocracy with Himself on the throne and all people under His rule, there will never be a truly righteous government. Because the message of the Gospel undermines earthly power by proclaiming an eternal heavenly power that is greater, there will always be oppression and resistance. As ambassadors of Jesus, our primary task is to be bold and proclaim the kingdom of God wherever we go, regardless of the danger. Peter, John, and the early church prayed for boldness and God gave it to them. What will you pray for today?

by Ben Urban, Pastor of Student Ministries

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