Hunkered Down Devotion

Acts 5:27-39 (Voice)
27 Once again the men stood before the council. The high priest began the questioning.
High Priest: 28 Didn’t we give you strict orders to stop teaching in this name? But here you are, spreading your teaching throughout Jerusalem. And you are determined to blame us for this man’s death.
Peter and the Apostles: 29 If we have to choose between obedience to God and obedience to any human authority, then we must obey God. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from death. You killed Jesus by hanging Him on a tree, 31 but God has lifted Him high, to God’s own right hand, as the Prince, as the Liberator. God intends to bring Israel to a radical rethinking of our lives and to a complete forgiveness of our sins. 32 We are witnesses to these things. There is another witness, too—the Holy Spirit—whom God has given to all who choose to obey Him.
33 The council was furious and would have killed them; 34 but Gamaliel, a Pharisee in the council respected as a teacher of the Hebrew Scriptures, stood up and ordered the men to be sent out so the council could confer privately.
Gamaliel: 35 Fellow Jews, you need to act with great care in your treatment of these fellows. 36 Remember when a man named Theudas rose to notoriety? He claimed to be somebody important, and he attracted about 400 followers. But when he was killed, his entire movement disintegrated and nothing came of it. 37 After him came Judas, that Galilean fellow, at the time of the census. He also attracted a following; but when he died, his entire movement fell apart. 38 So here’s my advice: in this case, just let these men go. Ignore them. If this is just another movement arising from human enthusiasm, it will die out soon enough. 39 But then again, if God is in this, you won’t be able to stop it—unless, of course, you’re ready to fight against God!


I don’t often say this – in fact, I am fairly certain this is the first time I have said or written something like this – but there is a lot we might learn from the Pharisee, Gamaliel, in this passage.

Put aside for a moment that we know that the Pharisee’s were on the wrong side of things here, opposing first Jesus, and then his disciples and the first Christians.  This fact does nothing to diminish the wisdom found in Gamaliel’s words to his fellow Pharisees.  As I looked at these words and considered them, I realized that they speak to us, in twenty-first century America, as they did to these first century Jewish leaders.

These words have meaning and insight for us because as Christians living in a pluralistic society  (a society where people hold a wide-variety of beliefs and the expectation is that there is tolerance among people for this range of beliefs), there is a temptation for us to ‘defend our faith’.  

We often miss it, because we dismiss them as the ‘bad guys’, but this is exactly what the Pharisee’s believed they were doing.  They were trying to preserve their faith, to ensure that their culture and their religion didn’t get lead astray by false teachings and new beliefs.  

Don’t misunderstand my meaning here.  The lesson from this passage isn't that what we believe doesn’t matter.  Instead, the message is that God doesn’t need us to defend him, and the call of God on our lives is always moving outward and ‘offensive’, instead of facing inward and in a ‘defensive’ posture.  

Gamaliel says: . If this is just another movement arising from human enthusiasm, it will die out soon enough. 39 But then again, if God is in this, you won’t be able to stop it—unless, of course, you’re ready to fight against God!

I believe that his words here are divinely inspired.  They are a message to us that God can handle defending himself, and our call is to figure out where God is, what movements have ‘God in them’ and get involved in those, so that we can be on ‘the offensive’ seeking to expand the reach of the kingdom of God here and now.  
 
Sharing God’s Love, 
Chip  

Prayer: Lord, remind us that you don’t ask us to ‘defend you’, but rather to be ambassadors of your Kingdom by sharing your love, grace and forgiveness for all.  Amen.

Related Posts

No Comments


Recent

Archive

 2020

Categories

Tags