A SACRIFICIAL FAITH
Lord, keep us in one accord.
Read ACTS 5:12–16
The Apostles Heal Many
12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
‘Fight the good fight with all thy might; / Christ is thy strength, and Christ thy right’ (John Monsell, ‘Fight the Good Fight’, 1863).
Solomon’s Colonnade ran along the east side of the Court of the Gentiles, which was an outer section of the temple. The Christians described here are meeting, then, right under the noses of the temple authorities who have only recently arrested Peter and John for preaching about Jesus, warning them not to teach about Him any more. In view of this, we would expect the believers to be uneasy and afraid. However, we are told it is other people who are the fearful ones: verse 13 says that ‘No one else dared join’ these Christians. Many commentators think that these fearful people keeping their distance are non-believers (eg., I Howard Marshall, Acts, IVP, 1998, p115). Of what are they afraid? The news of God’s judgment on Ananias and Sapphira could have struck fear into them, or, as Tom Wright suggests, they may be nervous about associating with the apostles because they know this could get them into trouble with the authorities (Tom Wright, Acts for Everyone pt 1, SPCK, 2008, p84).
Even though many of those outside the church keep away out of fear, people continue to come to Christ. Verse 14 says that ‘more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number’. So, the challenges and commitment involved in following Jesus do not deter everyone. Are there lessons for us in this? A church’s efforts to reach those who are not Christians can often focus upon being welcoming and making new people feel comfortable and at ease in our services and meetings. Might this sometimes mean we present the faith as being too easy? Are we honest enough about the costs involved in being a Christian? If we fear that this would put people off, then this passage suggests rather that there are many who would be attracted to a faith that involves sacrifice and commitment.
What are the hard things about being a Christian for you? How would you explain to someone who is not one that those costs are worth it?
Lord, bring us to the point that our commitment becomes so genuine and observable that the multitudes esteem us highly, too.
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