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July 18, 2013 – Acts 5

personalIt’s awfully tempting to take the Gospel personally.  If we preach to a crowd, and a thousand people get saved, we consider that God must really be using us (or that other evangelist). We do a little dance, maybe write an article in the denomination’s magazine, maybe start a tv show.   If we preach, and the people in the pews fall asleep, we think we have failed God.  We go hide in our home, eat a box of donuts, and start looking at truck-driver want ads.

MAYBE IT’S NOT ABOUT US

Could is be that whether or not people accept the Gospel is not our responsibility?  After all, not even everybody who listened to Jesus became a follower, and he was probably pretty familiar with the Gospel.  The Bible says several times that “some believed.”  In other words, people heard the same message, and some accepted and some didn’t.

In today’s chapter, we see the apostles also had trouble, despite having a good reputation. Notice that the disciples and believers were held in high regard in the early days, and still people did not “dare” to join them.  Why is that?  If they were so well-regarded, why not join in?  The problem is that the leaders were against Jesus and his followers, and association could be embarrassing or even dangerous.  People were reluctant to give up their lifestyles to become a follower of Christ.

Maybe things aren’t so different now.  There was a recent study showing that professing Christians were less likely to be hired in certain professions.  Would you be wiling to give up your job to publicly declare yourself a Christian, or would it be easier to just stay quiet?  Follow Jesus quietly in your home?  After all, shouldn’t religion be a “private” matter? Isn’t it easier to be “open-minded” than to take a stand?  After all, who wants to be laughed at or yelled at?

THEN AGAIN…

Don’t misunderstand, sometimes people have good reason for disliking us, and it’s not always because of Jesus.  Perhaps we’re arrogant, perhaps we’re condescending, perhaps we’re a little disconnected from reality, perhaps we like t0 consider ourselves martyrs or missionaries on par with the heroes of the faith, perhaps we’re just plain ole jerks.  Not every time somebody dislikes us can be traced to Jesus.

However, let’s not completely discount it either.  Jesus was pretty clear that people will hate us because of Him.  In reality, this is a spiritual world, and the darkness can’t stand the light.  It is what it is.  We need to accept that if we proclaim Jesus, certain people will not like us for that very reason, even if they don’t exactly know what the reason is.  Are we ready to give up popularity, a good job, friends, or advancement for Jesus? Are we willing to be made “foolish” in the eyes of the world?  Are we willing to submit our desires, our lifestyles, our every act and thought to the Lord of Creation?

We must never lose sight that it’s really all about Him.

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