Christ is risen!
Its easy to get a “persecution complex.” When you think of yourself as the center of the universe, anything that disturbs you or inconveniences you can be experienced by you as a source of “persecution.” After all, what are all these folks doing on my highway making me late for work? They must all have gotten together and planned to be on the road at the same time precisely to get in my way!
Of course, this is ridiculous and the transparent selfishness and self-centeredness is obvious to everyone who looks at this. But let’s examine our daily frustrations, and look closely at the mindset that allows us to become grumpy and impatient with others, and even God at times. If we look closely, we may discover we are simply too focused on ourselves.
Now, let’s take a look at the Apostles after Pentecost and the persecution they endured. Peter had been arrested and pressure was building on the Apostles in Jerusalem because of their outspoken declaration that the Jesus crucified on Friday had physically left the tomb alive on Sunday. And not only that, but they were performing healings in the Name of that very same Jesus. Many people were gravitating to the Apostles, so the chief priest and leaders of the people (isn’t it interesting that it’s always these “usual suspects” who have more invested in the status quo than truth that do the arresting) had Peter arrested. When he was released, the Apostles gathered and here is a portion of their prayer:
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30 (By the way, it would be wise to take your Bible and read the Book of Acts so you will be ready for the Feast of Pentecost)
First, they began by praising God for Who He is (see Acts 4:24). The source of boldness and peace in the Christian life is always the reality of intimacy with God and knowing Him. Not just knowing about Him, but being in relationship with Him through prayer and worship.
Second, they asked for continued boldness. Notice they didn’t ask for deliverance from the persecution. They knew that the persecution was going to produce weighty beauty in their own souls. They simply asked to be able to remain faithful no matter what the persecution brought to them. In our daily lives one of the most damaging fantasies is that somehow life is suppose to be easy and trouble-free. This illusion is both prideful and filled with disappointment. This lie, perpetuated by the enemy of your soul, is meant to do what he has always done – make you question God’s goodness Don’t ask to be delivered, ask to remain who you really are – faithful.
Finally, they asked God to keep using them for His glory. Notice they didn’t accept any credit or praise for any of their good works. They always deferred all praise and glory to Jesus. This came from their firm grip on reality, not some false humility. They knew the Source of their boldness and their good works was the Lord Himself so they dared not accept any “credit” for their works. Their absolute commitment to reality in light of the Resurrection set them free from both unreasonable expectations and short-sighted arrogance. That’s amazing freedom!
Today, my dear ones, as real life comes at you with plodding regularity, and, sometimes, mind-numbing routine, ask God not to deliver you out of your frustrations and troubles but ask to remain faithful to Him in the midst of your daily life. Then keep doing those things that reinforce your strength to be faithful, and, at all times, offer praise to God as your only Source.
If death has truly been defeated, then you never will be!