Thursday, September 8, 2016

What Should We Do With the Truth?

I want to remind us what Church can look like, by viewing a few different examples of the early Church in the book of Acts. Before Paul was standing before Festus, a group of people were making a name for themselves, living out their mission, sometimes in ways that look very differently than anything we would be comfortable with.

As we glimpse at these truths, it will be up to each one of us to decide what we will do. And my hope is that if we, like the crowd in Acts 2, ask 'what shall we do?', then we'll be quick to respond as well. For when Peter told that crowd they should repent and be baptized, they did, and 3,000 people were added to the Church that day.

Point 1 - We should never shy away from the Truth. Tell the Truth

In Acts 3, Peter and John are heading to a prayer service (something Rick Hurley is wishing more people would do) and they run into this guy who was totally lame. I mean, really uncool. Just kidding, the guy couldn’t walk. So Peter heals him in the name of Jesus and a crowd forms because they’re so amazed at what just happens.

For you basketball fans, you know those players who, if they have the ball, they must be open? Well Peter is like any good pastor, where, if there’s a crowd of people around, it must be time to preach. Because that’s what he does.

Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd. “People of Israel,” he said, “what is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness? For it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of all our ancestors—who has brought glory to his servant Jesus by doing this. This is the same Jesus whom you handed over and rejected before Pilate, despite Pilate’s decision to release him. You rejected this holy, righteous one and instead demanded the release of a murderer. You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. And we are witnesses of this fact! ~Acts 3:12-15

Peter didn't seem too concerned with offending those who were listening. He made it abundantly clear to the crowd listening that it was their fault Jesus was crucified.

The truth, in both the personhood of Jesus and the absolute correctness of everything he taught, is the only thing of which we can be sure. We would scoff at an arrogant child who was sure 2+2=5, but when we see people distort truth in other areas of our life, all of the sudden we want to say 'to each his own'.

Tell the Truth, all the time and in all places. And I’m not discussing your desire to lie to get out of trouble. I’m talking about the fact that we live in a society and in a generation that God would describe as ‘only listening to what their itching ears want to hear’, and what they really need to hear is the truth. Not with a protest sign while we yell at them that their final destination is hell or that God doesn’t like them or any of that nonsense. They need to hear that God loves them, that some of the stuff we do is messed up, and that God has a plan for our lives.

Because if we don’t Tell the Truth, then where exactly do we expect them to hear it?

If we Tell the Truth, eventually it will get us into some trouble, as it did with Peter and John.

Point 2 - Live the Truth

Peter and John are actually arrested mid-sermon. The next day they are brought before the Sanhedrin, a religious court. They ask Peter and John what they think they’re doing. Peter sees a crowd, so he continues his sermon. He gives glory to Jesus and tells the Sanhedrin that Jesus is where salvation is found.

The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. ~Acts 4:13

They recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. If only this were how we are all described. But here’s where it gets interesting. Peter and John are released, meet up with believers and pray. During the prayer, they ask this of God…

And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. ~Acts 4:29

It is interesting that the council saw boldness in Peter and John, yet the apostles left and prayed for boldness. We should display qualities only God can give us.

If we offer people wisdom that comes from men, they will find it elsewhere and be satisfied. If we offer them wisdom that can only be found from God, then we become a unique supplier of what they need.

Point 3 - We should leave people thinking twice. Respect the Truth

The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women. As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed. ~Acts 5:12-16

Imagine a church where new people were afraid to join. What would we say of such a church? Clearly, people kept joining the church in Acts. So why does Luke say this? I believe it is to show that people were taking the Church seriously. They didn't join without thought. They didn't mindlessly sign up to be a member, without considering the cost.

What is the cost of joining with believers today? How can we on the 'inside' love people yet show that this relationship is something we take serious enough to invest in?

Perhaps when people see us Tell the Truth and Live the Truth, they will believe we Respect the Truth we proclaim, and they will respect it as well. When a message is seen as credible, at least then it will be considered as a solution to the problems we see in the world.

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