God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we saw how the disciples courageously obeyed God when the leaders of their day “strictly charged” them not to teach in Jesus’ name. However the main emphasis of that last blog post was the manner in which they obeyed God (and disobeyed the authorities). If you’re interested in learning more you can check out our last post here: We Must Obey God Rather Than Men: Acts 5:17-29.
Today we’ll look at how the apostles shared truth with the authorities, and how the authorities responded.
So to set the scene, the high priest had just said, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”
To which Peter and the apostles responded: “We must obey God rather than men.”
Peter and the apostles continue . . . “The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. (see Acts 5:28-33)
A Contrast in Countenance
Peter and the apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, answer the high priest’s charges with a few simple truths. They calmly stated what they had witnessed, that Jesus was resurrected by God. And they simply offered the fact that it was they who killed Jesus by hanging him on a cross.
It’s interesting that the high priest said, “. . . you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Because when Pilate washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves,” all the people answered, “His blood be upon us and our children!” (Matthew 27:24-25)
Then Peter and the apostles continued sharing the truth when they said: God exalted Jesus at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.
“We are witnesses to these things,” the apostles said. “And so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Simple truths, delivered in a calm manner, by Peter and the apostles in response to their aggressive questioning.
So how did the high priest and his administration respond?
“They were enraged and wanted to kill them.”
The spirit of rage
People like this high priest and his cohorts tend to succumb to the spirit of rage. When they hear something that doesn’t line up with their own views, values, and opinions they allow the spirit of anger to well up within them. They like to be in control. And when people don’t stay in line with their agenda, they’re incensed.
That same spirit seems to be around in abundance these days. The pandemic and all that comes with it seems to have had the effect of loosing that spirit. People are angry. People are emotional. People are enraged.
Like the people in authority from our text, people today are succumbing to that same spirit of rage.
So here’s the thing: those people in authority from our text, they were enemies of the cross, were they not? And they were filled with that spirit of rage, were they not?
Paul wrote of spirits. He wrote of rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, and spiritual forces of evil. Ask yourself, if you were an enemy of the cross, wouldn’t it be a terribly devastating strategy to unleash a spirit of rage among believers? (Ephesians 6:12)
Could that be what’s happening in the world today?
Are we believers behaving more like that high priest than we are like Peter and the apostles?
Are our big opinions dwarfing our love for our neighbor, especially when our neighbor looks at the world differently than we do? (So maybe a question popped into your head just now: “Yeah but who is my neighbor anyway? Surely it’s not that guy on the news. It couldn’t be that woman on social media.” I’m pretty sure you already know how Jesus answered that question. (Luke 10:25-37))
Are we dismissing scriptures like Proverbs 20 verse 3?
“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.”
Are we forgetting how Jesus has forgiven us? And how from that place of having been forgiven, we’re to possess a spirit of forgiveness?
“Father, have mercy on us! Because we’re sinners. You have forgiven us and yet so often we’re not forgiving the way You want us to. Change us oh Lord. Go deep inside of us and transform us. Purge us from that spirit of anger, rage, unforgiveness. Make us those who walk in humility. Make us those who are so full of the love of Christ that that’s all the people around us can see. Make our opinions disappear in the great shadow of Jesus’ love. Have mercy on us Father. We plead the blood of Jesus on us. Forgive us for not forgiving and change us into those who forgive freely.
“In Jesus’ great name we pray.
Love Like Jesus by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!
Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)
Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.
Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:
- Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
- How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
- The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
- How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
- How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
- How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
- How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
- How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
- How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.
With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.
A life of loving like Jesus.