A New Devotion on Cove’s Prayer Line - Be Careful

9Aug

Below is a new devotion I just left on the Cove Presbyterian Church prayer line. You can find a recording of this devotion on the prayer line (1-304-748-7900). You can find other devotions, sermons, essays, articles, and announcements on The Cove Community blog. You might also want to visit the congregational website (covepresbyterian.org) for more church information. 

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Acts 5:27-32

When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them, saying, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man's blood on us." But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior that he might 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."

Be Careful

Peter and the others were brought before the council. Recently, they’d been arrested for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, but later they were released. Now, when they were turned loose, the disciples were told not to preach any more. But after praying for boldness, they continued their proclamation. And now, in the passage we read, they were back where they’d been a little while before, facing the same people with the same charge. And when confronted with the same command, Peter said something that Christians have used to justify all kinds of things for the last two thousand years. He said, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” And then he went on to explain what that meant.

And like I said, Christian often use this to justify positions that run against cultural norms and often the law. They say that by taking a certain position, they are obeying God rather than people. And even though this has solid biblical precedent, I think we need to be very careful when we claim it, and I have two reasons for saying that. I mean, before we throw down this trump card, we better be sure that our position really does show obedience to God, not just to what we assume or feel. In other words, I may sincerely believe I’m obeying God, when in reality, I’m only acting on what I may think is right. And frankly, I don’t believe I have any right to justify my personally opinions, even prejudices, by claiming God as a cover. Therefore, before claiming I’m standing with God, I’d better be sure. And for me, the most reliable standard we can use is what Christ said about the entire law. Remember he said it could be summarized by two commands, that we love God and neighbor. An so, if my position doesn’t reflect love for either, I probably should question the righteousness of my stance. That’s one. And second, I think we need to be willing to pay the consequences for our Godly positions. When the disciples defied the council, they were flogged. And as we’ll see a little later in Acts, Stephen was executed. In other words, we should expect that there’ll probably be a price for standing up for God, one that we should be willing to pay before we take the stand. And so, for those two reasons, before we claim that we’re obeying God rather than human authority, I think we should be careful.
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