Opposition

While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted them. They were incensed that the apostles were teaching the people and announcing that the resurrection of the dead was happening because of Jesus. They seized Peter and John and put them in prison until the next day. (It was already evening.) Many who heard the word became believers, and their number grew to about five thousand.

The next day the leaders, elders, and legal experts gathered in Jerusalem, along with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and others from the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and asked, “By what power or in what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, answered, “Leaders of the people and elders, are we being examined today because something good was done for a sick person, a good deed that healed him? If so, then you and all the people of Israel need to know that this man stands healthy before you because of the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is the stone you builders rejected; he has become the cornerstone! Salvation can be found in no one else. Throughout the whole world, no other name has been given among humans through which we must be saved.” ~Acts 4:1-12 (CEB)

“Those who seek to follow Jesus will encounter opposition. It follows as surely as night follows day. The opposition may arise within ourselves; it may arise among the followers of Jesus; or it may arise in the world. It may be subtle, blatant, mild, or severe. But opposition is sure to come, so the issue is not whether it will appear but how we respond to opposition.

Following Jesus was not easy in the first century, and it is not easy in the twenty-first century. The level of opposition to Jesus from within his own family and his own religious group surprised his early followers. Two thousand years later we understand a little more about human personality, but the level of opposition to Jesus and his followers still surprise us.

We may be able to understand the opposition of the Roman government, but it is hard to understand the opposition of a religious community that claimed to be seeking God and faithfulness to God just as Jesus was. And yet, opposition still comes today from within the church as well as from without. How are we to face opposition when it comes? Squarely, humbly, openly, and with all the faith we can muster.

To commit to following Jesus is to commit myself to a lifelong journey of being led where Jesus wants me to go and not necessarily where I want to go. This situation often causes opposition within myself. Jesus may call me to do what I do not normally and easily do. Jesus may ask me to wait or remain silent when I wish to speak or move on. In each of these cases I experience opposition within to what Jesus calls me to do and to be.

External opposition can arise when God calls for an action that is not what the church wants or what the world wants. Am I to follow Jesus? If so, I will face and feel opposition. And yet, the only course for faithfulness is to follow where Jesus leads. May God always guide us, and may we have the grace to follow Jesus as faithfully when we face opposition as when we face affirmation, affection, and acclaim.” From A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Lord Jesus Christ, you have shown us what it means to be a servant. We ask now for your grace and strength to faithfully follow in the footsteps of servanthood. We pray in the name and spirit of Jesus. Amen.

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