Acts 5:41-42 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
This is a fascinating story to me for a number of reasons. For one, the wisdom expressed by Gamaliel makes me wonder if he didn’t later become a believer himself, particularly after his famous disciple Saul encountered Jesus and became the Apostle Paul. The other factor is what is expressed in this little passage. How many of us to-day would consider it joy to be “counted worthy to suffer disgrace for the Name?” They immediately expressed that joy by doing exactly what the authorities had forbidden them to do! Being flogged isn’t a minor thing; today there would be screams of “police brutality!” However, they had seen what Jesus had gone through for them, and they knew that their own suffering was minor by comparison. I wonder how many of the people who are currently being sued and/or charged for not toeing the “politically correct” line are rejoicing? I’m sure that after vindication by the Supreme Court there is rejoicing, but how about before then? There are many preachers who tell people life will be “your best life now” if you become a Christian. In one sense that may be true, but not as far as this world is concerned, and that is where they place their emphasis. Their “converts” disappear when they encounter persecution. We aren’t to go looking for persecution, but neither are we to let the risk of persecution hold us back in any way from full obedience to Jesus Christ.
I wouldn’t call what I have experienced persecution as such, but I have had some uncomfortable/inconvenient times as a result of my obedience to the Lord. Frankly, they haven’t been so joyful in the middle of them, but I have been grateful in looking back on them. The sad thing is that the biggest opposition I have encountered has been from Christians! I am never to allow such opposition to cause me to hate such people, but rather let it spur me to pray for them more, in all humility. I have no real idea what this trip is going to bring, but my premonition is that we are going to get a lot of support, spiritually and maybe in other ways as well. I am not to let any of that go to my head, but rather give God all the praise and glory, knowing that it’s all about Him, and not about me.
Father, thank You for getting us here safely. It was a long trip, and we still have jet lag to work through. Thank You that a total stranger we happened to talk to as we waited for our ride to the hotel gave us $2! That was a total surprise, and though the amount is not significant, I believe it is an indication of Your provision for us. Help us walk in such fellowship with You that Your provision flows through us unhindered, on all levels, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!