Our church is reading through the book of Acts as we continue the Life In Bold teaching series. As promised, I want to share with you some of my own insights on the stories of the very first Christians. Let’s dive in!
In chapter Acts chapter 12, something devastating happens.
James was executed.
You know who James was, right? One of the 12 apostles. One of Jesus’ best friends. One of the chosen three men who witnessed Jesus reveal his Heavenly glory (Matt 17). Yeah, that James. A key player in the Jesus’ ministry….a key figure in the lives of the earliest Christians.
So, let me set the scene. After Jesus was crucified, the apostles went to a whole other level spreading the Good News of the Messiah. They banded together and saw miracles done through their work – the lame could walk, the Gentiles were accepted, thousands were converted, and the believers became completely devoted to each other.
The apostles were probably seen as THE central figures….spiritual fathers, in a sense. And then, one of their very own was taken out. James was killed by the sword by King Herod in an effort to stamp out Christianity. To be sure, the believers had already faced persecution, and some had been arrested and killed. But, this was different. This was one of the chosen 12. This was one of the key leaders. It was surely a blow to the foundations of the church to suffer such a loss.
It gets worse.
King Herod recognized that James’ death pleased the Jews, so he proceeded to arrest Peter….another apostle….another key leader in the Christian movement. Certainly King Herod’s motive was to kill Peter, too. Can you imagine what was going through his mind….or the minds of the other believers?
What is happening? Is this how it ends? Will King Herod get all of us? Who will be next?
And, then, a miracle. As Peter sat chained in a prison cell, his shackles fell off and the locked doors opened. At first, he thought he was experiencing a vision, but when he found himself outside, he came to his senses and realized he was free!
What did he do next? Run for his life? Skip town? Stop preaching? Back down? Shy away?
Nope. Not Peter. He went straight to his friend’s home to celebrate the miracle, and then he got back to work. That’s right, when the chips were down he didn’t run. He stood firm.
That story got me thinking. When the chips are down, what do I do? What do you do? Do we second-guess our calling? Do we count the sacrifice as too great and give up? Do we run and hide to avoid backlash, persecution, or discomfort? Or, do we stand firm? Get back to work? Cling to our calling like never before?
I don’t know your circumstances this week, but let me encourage you to stand firm. When you are working for the Lord, persecution is inevitable. Accept it. Prepare for it. Face it. Then, stand firm.
In short, fight, not flight.
Thank God for encouraging stories in Scripture to remind us what bold faith looks like. Be bold today, my friends!