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.
But the word of God increased and multiplied.Acts 12:24
In our last few posts we’ve seen the story of an enemy of Christ, Herod. He’s the one who killed James with the sword. He’s the one who “laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church.” Herod is the one who put Peter on death row. So he’s against Jesus and he’s against Jesus’ message and he’s against Jesus’ followers. (If you want to learn about how Herod’s story ends, you can read more here: The Price of Pride–Acts 12:20-23.)
But in today’s verse, we see that it didn’t matter how Herod struggled to oppress Jesus’ followers. It didn’t matter what Herod did to suppress Jesus’ message. Whatever Herod or any other enemy of Christ might have done, Jesus prevailed anyway. As we see in today’s text, “the word of God increased and multiplied.”
What God Has Control Over (and what He doesn’t)
The other day a friend of mine sent me a quote from a Bible teacher sharing about Jonah. This teacher wrote: “The whale was greater than Jonah. It swallowed him whole. Yet that violent death and subsequent resurrection was the key moment in Jonah’s life and mission. It was necessary not only for Jonah’s own salvation (he had been running from God), but it also was necessary for the salvation of the whole city of Nineveh.”
Then he said, “Christ makes this reference to Jonah as a forewarning to his listeners: He is greater than Jonah. [‘The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here,’ Jesus said in Luke 11:32.)] He [Jesus] is greater than the death that would swallow him. This should inspire our faith and confidence in Christ. There is nothing greater than he. There is no greater prophet; no greater event can consume him. All things are under his dominion . . .”
So when the enemies of Jesus do all that they will to oppose him, their efforts are futile. Though they do their best, just as we see in today’s passage, no matter how they may try, the word of God will increase and multiply.
But the quote from the teacher continues. And we learn there’s something, one thing, just one thing, God doesn’t control.
Finally the teacher shares: “All things are under his dominion except one: our free will. That he doesn’t force; that he doesn’t conquer.” (Ray)
We see this from the beginning. In the garden, God chose to relinquish control of Adam and Eve’s free will. He allowed them to decide the course of their lives for themselves. He provided for their free will, and He wouldn’t force them, He wouldn’t constrain their freedom to choose.
So in the context of sharing the word of God, no matter what we do the word of God will increase and multiply.
The only thing for you and I to decide is whether or not we’ll choose to participate.
Whether or not we want to be a part of what He is doing.
If we choose to, we can contribute. And when we engage in God’s work, we make Him smile.
If we choose not to join in sharing Jesus, God won’t pressure us. But His work and the associated blessings will go on without us.
He has chosen to leave that one part of His creation outside of His dominion.
So the choice is yours, and the choice is mine.
Father Daniel Ray, The Queen, the Ninevites and Me via LC, Catholic.net
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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.