One of the tasks I complete every week here as pastor is to come up with a sermon title. And as you know, sermons as well as sermon titles are subject to change at a moment's notice. While the text I will preach from (Acts 4:5-21) will remain the same this week, the focus and the title for this message has changed. (Celeste, who is so faithful in putting up my sermon title on the sign each week will not be happy with me). Instead of preaching on Jesus as the cornerstone of our lives, I want us to examine another aspect of the scripture; I want to consider courage, and the courageous stand that Peter and John gave to the rulers and leaders of the day.
Courage is defined as the "mental or moral strength to face fear, danger or difficulty." In our text, which follows the miraculous healing of the crippled man at the gate "Beautiful" by Peter and John, these disciples have extraordinary courage to face criticism, judgment, and punishment in response to their actions. Instead of shirking responsibility or fading away, Peter and John are bold in explaining how they were able to heal the gentleman. Peter, being full of the Holy Spirit says in verses 8-11, "'Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.'" Peter not only says they healed the man in the name of Jesus, he condemns the rulers of the Sanhedrin for their role in killing Jesus. He was not defensive, he was offensive in his response to their questions.
I point this out to ask, are we that bold with our faith? Are we willing to take a stand, perhaps even an unfavorable one, in the name of Jesus who was crucified, and resurrected? My fear is that we in the church have become so afraid of being unpopular that we refuse to be bold in our beliefs. I can tell you that many individual Christians are more concerned with being liked by their friends, family and peers, than they are about being true to their faith in Christ Jesus. I say this not to be judgmental or to be condemning, but instead, to confront a serious issue that is plaguing us as followers of Christ. It is time for us to be bold and proclaim our faith and witness to a world in desperate need of hope and love.
As you prepare for Sunday, I want you to pray that God would give you the courage to be a witness in this time just like Peter and John were in their time.
May God bless you and keep you as you serve Him faithfully,