Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Will Not Shut Up!!!

"Shut up!!" That's what they were told.  Well, maybe that's a bit of a paraphrase but they were severely warned to stop saying what they were saying. Was it hate speech? Not exactly.  They proclaimed the truth of Jesus Christ to a man who had been crippled for over 40 years and he was healed.  That's it.  Well, that was the beginning at least.  A miracle had been performed that was certain.  There was no denying it.  A man had been crippled for over 40 years and instantly he was healed.  Everyone knew beyond the shadow of a doubt this was a miracle.  Day after day, this man sat at the gate begging for money, but this day he encountered two men who would radically change his life forever. Unaware of who these men were and what they could do for him, this crippled man asked Peter and John for money.  Money wouldn't fix his problem.  Sure, it might help sustain him for a day or two, but money couldn't buy him a new set of legs that worked properly.  No amount of money could make this crippled man walk.  He counted on the chance that when others would see him, they would have mercy on him and throw some change in his cup. Peter and John don't reach for change though. Instead Peter makes this declaration, "Silver and gold have I none, but in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."

I'm sure Peter and his counterpart John didn't intend to rock the boat this day when they awakened.  They didn't set out to stand on a soapbox.  This day was probably not that much different than any other day.  But when they saw this man, rather than throw some loose change his way, they determined to deal with the root issue in his life.  They healed him in the name of Jesus and things just began to snowball.  People in the community knew this man who was healed.  They saw him day in and day out at the gate begging.  Naturally, when he was healed by the hand of these two men, it drew attention.  A crowd gathered and Peter used this as an opportunity to explain how this man was healed.  He used this as an opportunity to declare the truth about Jesus and how he was crucified and raised from the dead.  He simply declared the truth.

The religious leaders of the day were outraged and they had Peter and John arrested.  Like everyone else, they knew this man who had been healed.  They too, had seen him day in and day out begging at the gate.  They themselves could not deny the miracle that had taken place, but...... Herein, was the problem.  But, it was by the power of this man named Jesus.  On one hand we have a notable miracle that cannot be denied but on the other hand is this man named Jesus.  A man they had crucified.  A man they had declared was a false prophet.  A man they denied was the Messiah.  In order to be on board with Peter and John, they would have to admit they blew it.

So, naturally instead of jumping on board, they determined to continue doing what they had been doing since the first time they heard about this Jesus.  They determined to suppress the truth.  They warned Peter and John and demanded that they cease speaking of this Jesus.  They threatened them and basically commanded them to shut-up. Isn't this amazing?  These men know the truth, but determine to suppress it.  Even though this truth healed a man crippled for more than 40 years.  A man, they themselves could do nothing for except fill his cup up with some pocket change.  Even though this truth had the power to change peoples lives, they insisted on attempting to suppress it.

After being threatened, Peter and John refused to keep quiet.  They continued to speak the truth in a culture that fought them every step of the way.  They determined to speak the truth regardless of the risk involved. As a result, that truth set people free.  That truth healed people.  That truth saved multitudes. Yes, while that truth faced major opposition, it changed countless peoples lives.

Today we live in a culture that desperately wants to suppress the truth much like the culture Peter and John found themselves in.  While here in America we aren't being faced with arrest (we'll see how long that lasts), one would have to be blind not to see the increased opposition to the truth of the Gospel.  The spirit behind the ideologies of "political correctness" and "tolerance" is no different than the spirit that drove the religious leaders in Peter's day to conspire to squash the truth.  The results of a culture that insists on suppressing the truth are detailed in chapter 1 of Romans and they are devastating. I must admit all the consequences listed in that passage you can clearly see on the rise in our culture today. Check it out for yourself (Romans 1:18-32).  It's important for believers to understand what is going on. There is an agenda here but it is not political, its spiritual.  The enemy is dead set on suppressing the truth.  He's been on this campaign since the day he met Eve in the garden.  He understands that the truth has the power to set mankind free, so his strategy is to squash that truth.

The body of Christ need not be rattled by the enemy's strategy.  It only needs to recognize it and follow in the footsteps of those early church leaders.  When pressured to shut up, they refused to do so.  They spoke the truth and lived the truth.  Sure, it was risky, but as a result, the lives of multitudes were transformed. We live in a culture that desperately wants to suppress the truth.  We see it everywhere.  We can either allow this world to squeeze us into its mold or we can determine to speak the truth.  We can either sit down and shut up or determine to proclaim the truth that alone has the ability to set people free. You can do what you want, but as for me, I WILL NOT SHUT UP! It's not because I'm looking for a fight.  It's not because l need a soapbox.  It's not because I want to simply rock the boat. I refuse to shut up because I know that the truth sets people free. 

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