We are only in the fourth chapter of Acts and yet the heat is already turning up on the disciples. The church faces its first instance of persecution in this week’s passage and it makes me wonder, “Can we expect this to happen to us here in Goffstown and how would you and I hold up?” I’ve been focusing a lot of my preparation for this week’s message on answering those questions and a few others.
What do we think about suffering and persecution? I have to admit, I am not crazy about either one. I don’t think it is just me. Our culture seeks to avoid suffering at all cost. Suffering is viewed as undesirable and we can even say, from a biblical perspective, that suffering is one result of the fallen world that we live in. Yet, James tells us to “consider it pure joy” when we experience trials. It’s kind of hard to wrap your head around that, isn’t it. Yet, we know and can each probably point to more than one instance where God ultimately used suffering for our own good. Suffering and persesecution of Christ’s Church in no way thwarts God’s sovereign plans. In fact, it is usually under these circumstances that the church multiplies rapidly and the faith of Christ’s disciples is emboldended. .
This week going to learn about a specific kind of suffering: suffering when acting out our faith in Jesus Christ. We’ll see that Peter and John suffered specifically because they were bold and courageous in acting out their faith in Jesus. That’s something not many of us, I suspect, can say we have rarely suffered for. But should we? Will we? How can we? Opposition sometimes shows up in places where we least expect it, yet there is no shortage of opposition to the Gospel in our pluralistic society.
Join me on Sunday morning as we look to God’s word for encouragement in dealing with this challenging topic!