The other day, I got an invitation to sit in on a conference call with some members of an evangelical association. The topic is concern about new legislation being brought in by the government. I’m going to guess that it involves restricting what churches and preachers can do in certain situations and will be declared “another assault on Christianity”.
Excuse me, but dozens of people getting their heads chopped off for being Christian is an “assault on Christianity”; certainly the report by the Bishop of Truro for the then UK Foreign Secretary spells out atrocities around the world that are far worse than what we see in North America; in fact, any “freedom of expression” issues in North America didn’t even move the needle in that report.
Being aware of such legislation is valuable, because, like finding out about symptoms of an illness, we then know what to pray about. But we have to remember that we followers of Jesus are a different breed. We are expected to preach the Gospel, whether it’s legal or not, and when someone threatens us for it, keep pointing people towards God, and not our own “victim status”.
And when [the Captain and officers] had brought [the apostles], they set them before the Council. And the high priest asked them,
saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look: you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!”
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than men.”— Acts 5:27-29
And the apostles were willing to go to jail, be beaten or executed, rather than stop preaching the Gospel. And what were they preaching, after all? Were they naming sins and condemning people? No: they preached that Jesus came to earth “to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.” (Acts 5:31)
Recall Peter’s sermon, which I talked about yesterday: it was all about the new hope in Christ — not the degradation of the world. It was about God fulfilling His promise of sending a Savior — not about sins that made us need to have a Savior. That message brought 3,000 souls to Christ in one day, and more and more as the days progressed.
That should tell us something. Rather than cry out, “Help! I’m being suppressed!”, let our example and our words of peace be incontrovertible. It’s no crime to spread good news, even if it’s made a crime to believe and to declare that some things are an offence to God; if we’re as effective as Peter was in proclaiming Jesus, those “offences” won’t have a chance.
Here’s a challenge for you: is protesting “restrictive” laws or declaring something is an offence to God a way of deflecting attention from the fact that we’ve fallen down on the job we’re supposed to be doing?
#WDJTUTD = What Did Jesus Tell Us To Do?
He told us to spread the Good News, to heal people, to demonstrate the power of the Holy Spirit and show the love that God has for all of us. He didn’t tell us to protest and complain “This is so not fair!” As Jesus Followers, we’re part of a counter-culture that’s been around ever since Calvary. It’s what makes us different.
The Pharisee Gamaliel advised his colleagues that if the doctrine Peter and the Apostles preached was really nothing, then it would wither and die within a generation; but if it was of God, it would not go away, and they would be putting themselves in a very awkward position by opposing it.
Let’s remember that. If we stick to our “playbook” and not get distracted by the things the enemy wants us to fuss about, we’ll see more people come to Jesus. And that, after all, is the name of the game.