Monday, August 23, 2010

Worth the Risk--Acts 5:12-26

How many of you are on Facebook? As you know, Facebook has tons of apps, and they can get addicting. I used to like taking quizzes. One of the many Facebook quizzes you can take is “For what are you most likely to be arrested?” And there are 6 or so answer choices and descriptions with which you could end up. For example, I guessed my cousin’s would be for “Disturbing the Peace”. Because she’s good at being a rabble rouser--not that she’s at all criminal, but she is opinionated and loves to speak her mind, and is not going to back down easily.
My quiz answer is “Civil Disobedience”. Like my cousin, I too am stubborn and opinionated, but I also have a passion for social justice. For example, when I was teaching at Robbins Elementary School, I had a student with behavior and emotional problems who was constantly getting suspended off the bus for fighting. This kid had an assigned seat and knew it, so if someone was in his seat, he would act out inappropriately. The problem was when he was suspended from the bus, he was suspended from school. So here is a child who needs to be in school the most—he’s behind academically, there’s no one home to supervise him, so he’s more likely to get in more serious trouble home alone, and the reason the bus seating was a problem was because the bus was too crowded. This was a bus that went into a poorer neighborhood where a good portion of parents spoke limited English or were ignorant of their rights. I said to my student’s primary teacher one day that if this kid got suspended one more time because of overcrowding, I was going to get her, myself, the bus driver, who was also sympathetic, and the parents to picket the central office until they gave us another bus. I don’t know if I was overheard or if it was just glaring that this bus overall had problems, but we did get another bus not too long after that.
What about you? If you took the Facebook quiz, for what would you be most likely to end up in jail? Well, the apostles were arrested for continuing to preach and teach and heal in the name of Jesus. It was religious disobedience—they were clearly and blatantly opposing the command they were given by the religious authority in Acts 4. They were rabble rousing—they were gathering larger and larger groups of people together. They were arrested for doing what the Holy Spirit compelled them to do. They had already weighed the risk, and decided obeying God came first. Jesus was worth the risk.
Think about a time in your life when you had to weigh risk… What was it that made you go ahead or back out? Are you satisfied with the decision you made, or do you have regrets? Now what if Jesus asked you do something risky…how would you respond? David Bruce likes to contemplate this when he’s struggling in his ministry. Pastor Bruce says, “If God asked you to preach to a wall, would you do it?” He thinks of the Old Testament prophets and what they went through. Isaiah was told directly by God that the people were not going to listen to him. Jeremiah was told the same thing. Jeremiah even tried not to preach, but the Spirit compelled him. He says that the Word of God was like a fire shut up in his bones. Hosea had to marry a prostitute. I think he did fall in love with her, but she left him for other men more than once, and yet he kept taking her back. Ezekial had to lay on his side and eat barley cakes baked with dung. Our tame Bibles say, “baked on dung,” but the way they baked was to put the food in the coals—in this case cow patties. I’m glad I’m not an Old Testament prophet!
But we are challenged when God asks us to do something and we can’t see the point or the effect, and it’s just so hard. We aren’t challenged with the same things as the prophets or even the same things that our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are challenged with, but we might be someday. And even in the meantime, Jesus asks us, “What will you risk for Me? Am I worth the risk?” Are we faithful even in those small things? Do we boldly move forward in the confidence of Christ, or do we cave to our own desires?
About a month ago, we examined the disciples’ prayer for boldness, knowing that persecution was coming. Well, now the persecution has started, and once again, they end up in jail. It’s not just Peter and John; it says, “the apostles.” For some of them this was their first time in prison, and yet, look at what they did. What do the apostles do when they get released? My husband pointed out that they do what many criminals do—they go right back and do the same thing again. They continue to preach and perform miracles in Jesus’s Name. It shouldn’t surprise us then that persecuted believers in China or India or Afghanistan have such compulsion and boldness to continue to preach the gospel even with continued threats of harsher imprisonments or death. No, it shouldn’t surprise us, but it should give us pause. Are we as passionate about the gospel? Is it as compelling for me? Am I convinced of its power and of the power of Jesus Christ?
I’ll never forget Dr. Helen Roseveare, medical missionary to the Congo, telling us when we were in Thailand how she was being dragged down the hall by her hair by a soldier knowing she was going to be beaten and gang raped thinking with her work flashing through her head thinking “Is it worth it? Is it worth it?” As she was saying “No,” the Holy Spirit showed her she was asking the wrong question. The new question that kept repeating was, “Is He worthy? Is Christ worthy?” And the resounding answer was, “Yes!” Her “Yes” was strong enough that less than two years after she was released from captivity, she returned to the Congo to help in the rebuilding of the nation and to continue her medical work. Jesus was worth it, because He is worthy!
How much do you value Jesus? Is He asking you to take a risk for Him? Is Jesus worth the risk?

3 Comments:

Blogger Pastor Parato said...

In the middle of this sermon, I shared 2 storis from the August 2010 edition of the Voice of the Martyrs magazine.

August 23, 2010 at 10:23 AM

 
Blogger Robbie said...

Good Sermon!! Don't know how to get the podcast, but I guess maybe I have to have a Pod!!??

August 24, 2010 at 5:35 PM

 
Blogger Pastor Parato said...

To listen, you just click on the title.

August 25, 2010 at 8:23 AM

 

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