Tuesday 05 May 2020

Bible Book:

But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority.' (v. 29)

Acts 5:12-32 Tuesday 5 May 2020

Psalm: Psalm 33:13-22


Today's reading is a long one, where we see a variety of attitudes to the faithful response to their call by the apostles. Those who are hurting, vulnerable and powerless respect them and seek God’s blessing from them. Those holding onto power and privilege are feeling threatened and are desperate to hold onto what they have for themselves.

The apostles are being faithful to the prophets, to the teaching and example of Jesus, to the fruits of the Holy Spirit as they act with the boldness they prayed for in Acts 4. We can see how their actions fit themes from Scripture, including Micah 6:8 and Mary’s song, the Magnificat, in Luke 1:53 “he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty”, from Jesus announcing his ministry in Luke 4:18, from the Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7

It is critical that we find the apostles acting in ways that the people can see demonstrating faithful discipleship, actions that are not self-seeking, that are faithful, without personal gain. Only when we see these things can the response to a challenge in verse 29 be appropriate. 

All too often people claim to be obeying God before and without that faithful discipleship, and these can be terrifying and dangerous. Only when the crowds of hurting, vulnerable, powerless say, yes we have seen the teaching and practice of Jesus in these people, we have seen that they are not doing this for themselves, only then can the claim to be obeying God stand.

As at other times, we have seen false claims of doing God’s will during the pandemic (see Pete Phillips article Coronavirus-spreading churches: Bad theology has tragic consequences) that lacked the recognised, visible disciple-like actions first.

When Christians live faithfully as the apostles do here, then we see the panicked response of those using power to control others and for their own benefit. We see the downtrodden lifted and freed, we see the world changed, not by those seeking power but by those exercising faithful love as they obey the teaching and example of Jesus. It has happened before in the early days of the Methodist movement, in the Civil Rights movement, and I’m sure the historians know of many others.


To Ponder: 

  • What might a faithful working out of discipleship look like as a new normal is searched for after the pandemic?
  • Where have you seen or experienced people authentically obeying God? What does it look and feel like?
  • What might authentically obeying God mean for you today?
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