Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Can't Help It

Acts 4 picks up in the middle of a dramatic event outside the temple in which a crippled man regains his mobility.  Peter and John, early leaders of the church and close friends of Jesus, are taken into custody by the authorities at the request of the Sadducees (the Sadducees are a sect of Jewish priests who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead as Peter and John preached - Acts 3:15).  They are held overnight and brought before a group called the Sanhedrin - a word meaning "sitting together" and referring to an assembly of judges in Israel.  Here they were questioned.

During their inquisition Peter and John boldly proclaim the gospel and in so doing "astonish" these educated leaders.  The disciples' boldness and apparent authority are so shocking that the Sanhedrin withdraw into closed quarters to discuss the plan for dealing with these men.  For fear of losing control and favor among the Israelites decide to order the apostles to cease their proclamations altogether.

Peter's response to this demand stands for itself, he says to the Sanhedrin, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

I was challenged by this and I want to point out two things about this:

  • What they had to say they understood as fact
  • We should have a similar sense of urgency in sharing God with others

The Facts

Sometimes I find myself focusing more on philosophical discussions about the existence of God and deeply logical explanations of the Bible's authenticity rather than simply stating the facts.  The facts:

  • The Bible is a book comprised of many literary works
  • These literary works describe a man named Jesus
  • Jesus claimed to be God and brought a message of grace and reconciliation
  • Jesus's closest friends saw him die and live again
  • Reconciliation and grace can be ours

The Bible contains a portion of the works and teachings of Jesus (John says that if everything were written down the world's books couldn't contain it).  The teachings recorded are so radical and unlike anything else that they seem crazy but the facts are:

  • Since my dad didn't exasperate me I know he loves me (Ephesians)
  • I obeyed the authorities and got good grades (Romans)
  • My brother and sister understand grace and forgiveness so they still love me (Gospels)

Share the facts and let those who hear deal with it.

The Urgency

Often when something is important to you it's important enough to share.  When your friends have babies you tell people about it, when you get engaged you let people know, if you liked a particular movie you tell people to see it, if you like a restaurant you tell people to try it.  These things just flow out during conversation as if we couldn't help it.  Our experiences with the church, the Bible and God should probably be similar.  If our experiences with the community of Christ don't impact us then we're unlikely to think they are worth sharing.

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