There speaks wisdom Acts 5:33-42:
’33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honoured by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: ‘Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.’ 40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 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.’ NIV UK
I’ve heard it pointed out that Gamaliel was not totally correct in what he said (38), inasmuch as there are human enterprises which are highly successful. There can be flourishing churches where much of the ‘’activity is of human origin’’. Not everything originating in the mind of man is going to end up a flop. So there is a fallacy in Gamaliel’s opening gambit. (Although, it is also true to say that every merely human activity is going to ‘’fail’’ ultimately when weighed on the eternal scales of God’s judgment.) However, Gamaliel was certainly right to say that what is from God is ultimately unstoppable (39). Jesus is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it (Matthew). For centuries the hellish gates have repeatedly tried, yet to no avail. To be sure, they appear to win temporary, short term victories, but it remains the case that ‘the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.’
We marvel at the attitude shown by the apostles (41), yet can you not identify with it in some way. Perhaps you have not been so severely abused as they were; but have you not been mocked and scorned and laughed at for being a Christian? Have you not found yourself the butt of cruel jokes and the target for snide remarks? And do you not know, at least to some extent, the ‘buzz’ of standing up for Jesus in the face of this frivolous and hostile world? You have known that deep contentment of doing the right thing, even though it was hard. Again, the bravery of these early Christian preachers shines through (40, 42). Knowing full well the likely outcome, they ‘’never stopped’’ talking about Jesus.
PRAYER: This kind of courage only comes from above. So Lord, here I am, applying for my own supplies of much needed bravery.