June 21, 2012

The sin of silence

In our land of free speech, speaking against our government is tolerated, even the norm. Unlike many countries, no one will be hauled in front of a magistrate or shot for declaring they would make a better leader than the one currently in that position. But in the first century, this was not so. Under Roman rule, Caesar was worshiped as a god and the people dare not speak against him. Because of this power invested in a person, the early Christians were severely persecuted. They dared to do what was forbidden.
And when they could not find them (Paul and his fellow evangelists), they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also, and Jason has received them, and they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” (Acts 17:6–7)
Sometimes Christians today express that the church should be more like the “early church” as described in the New Testament. Those with this desire may be looking through rose-colored glasses. They see the godliness of those early Christians and the rapid growth in the body of Christ. But are they noticing the persecution that went along with those ideals?

Where I live, it is against the law to harm people for their faith. We are blessed by freedom to express it yet that is not the norm. Many of us are aware that our social responses and laws that forbid speaking against certain sins are threats that tend to produce silence rather than bold declarations. While few idolize our leaders like they did in the Roman Empire, many do tend to put “political correctness” on a pedestal and honor it above the command of God to share our faith.

When I read about the accusations against those early Christians, I think I would like to be among the number of people said to have “turned the world upside down” yet I know that this comes with a price. In some parts of the world, that price is written in blood, but here it is smaller. Christians can be ridiculed or dismissed and not heeded. We are free to dislike our leaders, even mock them, but can we dare say that the real king is Jesus Christ?

Jesus, You are Lord, not just of my life and the lives of Your people, but You sovereignly rule the entire world. Those who dragged Christians before the Roman authorities hated You. People today are also against You and refuse to acknowledge your power, yet we are not to give in to their threats and keep our mouths shut. Forgive us for our timid silence. Grant us boldness – that we might exalt You and make Your name known.

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