Day 9: Can't we all just get along? (Acts 4:1-31)
Today’s Passage: Acts 4:1-31
Most of us want everyone to simply get along with each other. Not a bad goal. Yet, in this world, whether we like it or not, our points-of-view will clash with others.
How we respond, when our point of view differs with another person’s, reveals what we care deeply about.
When we care deeply, we often become passionate.
I have a few sports teams I root for. Invariably I meet people who root for rival teams. My wife for one. Her teams and mine are longtime rivals (the Red Sox and New York Yankees).
When she and I are having some fun with each other, I have to be careful not to go too far with the fun. The old phrase, “what hill is worth dying on” comes to my mind. The reality is that I can push my “fun” just a little too far. So, I don’t.
But this brings to mind the question. Is there a hill, a point of view, worth dying on?
Today’s portion of Scripture continues the scene of these very certain men: Peter and John.
They get dragged in front of the authorities. The authorities cannot have what they want, because the people are in Peter and John’s corner. Peter and John’s heart would love nothing less than the Jewish authorities to understand, accept, and follow Jesus. In those sorts of instances, people are often looking for a way out, a way to all just get along.
Notice Peter and John’s point-of-view. It does not change.
We might think they are being head-strong, even arrogant? In our day-and-age, we are daily fed to not force our beliefs on others. Isn’t that what they are doing?
There is an important phrase: “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit”.
I quickly focus my attention on the humans, on Peter and John, and on the authorities. Yet, what is taking place is this dynamic of God, by His Spirit, working through humans who set themselves at his service.
One reflection earlier, I noted how Peter and John were living with certainty, perhaps I should have said “living in certainty” or “certainty living in them” or some other phrase which better communicated that the Holy Spirit was indwelling them.
They understand this dynamic, because when they return to their friends, they give all the glory to God. They see the truth of Psalm 2 in this one episode. And then they have this prayer:
29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
They pray that they would continue to do signs and wonders? No, they pray they would speak God’s words with boldness. It is God who stretches out his hand for signs and wonders, not them, and this is done in Jesus’ name.
It makes amazing sense. Humans can speak. We have mouths. But it is only God who can heal.
Working supernatural miracles will make them into celebrities, even gods (we will see both in the coming days). It is why staying grounded, and staying clear, about “who is doing what” is so important as we try to follow Jesus.
The result is that God visibly pours more of the power of the Holy Spirit into them.
Notice they did not ask for the Holy Spirit or to be delivered from conflict. They asked for the boldness to speak, to proclaim the Name of Jesus.
The text does highlight arguments Peter and John have with authorities, but I have to remind myself that the text also says that 5,000 men believed. We need to keep our eyes focused on the mission and goal. If we allow our goal to be one of “keeping the peace”, then we will in the end, miss a great opportunity.
I started this reflection considering what happens when different points-of-view come into conflict. Beyond joking about sports teams, I asked if there was “a hill is worth dying on”.
There was for Jesus.