Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Rejoicing at the Wrong Time

Peter and John were having a great time in Acts 4 and 5. People were being healed as the Holy Spirit worked through them and in turn many people were turning to faith in Christ. This got the religious leaders of the day up in arms and more than once they were brought before the Sanhedrin to get what was due them. 

Since the Jewish council could not discount the miracles that were taking place they decided that Peter and John should stop preaching in the name of Jesus, healing in the name of Jesus, in short...stop mentioning the name of Jesus. It was making them all look bad.

The apostles' response? Acts 5:29-32 "We must obey God rather than men! The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead--who you had killed by hanging him on a tree. (Nice dig!) God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."

As you would imagine, the men of the Sanhedrin were a tad upset. Not only had they ordered these men to stop speaking the name of Jesus, the apostles had just preached at them in their own council! They wanted the apostles dead. But the wisdom of a Pharisee named Gamaliel spared the apostles (read about in Acts 5) and they were only flogged and sent on their way, again orderied not to speak in the name of Jesus.

Acts 5:41 "The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name."

Verse 41 got me thinking. Have I ever rejoiced because I have been counted worthy to suffer disgrace for Christ? Have I ever done anything that would bring me disgrace because of my stand for Christ? This is sort of radical, isn't it? 

I am used to rejoicing when God has answered some amazing prayer for me. I am quick to rejoice when the church is full and people come to know Christ. I am thankful when my position as Pastor puts me in places to see God move and minister. I rejoice when I am supposed to...when everything is going right. 

But when someone won't talk to me because I stand for Christ, do I rejoice then? When I am given the silent treatment and awkward glances when I make the case for God, do I rejoice then?
When I am treated differently because of my faith in Christ, do I rejoice then? 

Or do I try to curry favor with those who oppose me?

The apostles rejoiced at the wrong time. They continued to speak the Truth without compromising their stand. They spoke plainly to those who would come against them, rightly saying "We need to listen to God." 

Their rejection, their suffering, their disgrace probably did not feel good yet the apostles rejoiced for the privilege of being counted worthy to suffer for Christ. How often do I have the opportunity to rejoice at the wrong time?

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