S174P5 – The early Church: the fruit of persecution

Acts 4:1-4

The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people.  They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.  They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.  But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.

His days ran like clockwork.  After breakfast, he would be off to work before anyone else was even awake.  His job kept food on the table, but his real work started afterward.  He would come home, share a meal with his family, then hit the streets with the Gospel.  Sometimes he would go door to door.  Other times he would speak from the sidewalk to whomever would listen.  Every now and then, he would be taken in by the local authorities for proselytizing.  Each time he returned home, his daughter would shake her head and ask him why he could not be a little quieter and find a way to preach without being so noticeable.  His response was always the same.  The greater testimony was not in his words but in how he lived them.

Peter, John and everyone who was listening to them in that place were going through a moment.  The Holy Spirit had shown up and released his power, and that power was at work.  What they had read in the scriptures and had been told by the Lord was coming to pass.  In order for them to do the work of Christ properly and effectively, they could not be shy no matter the consequences.  We see here that their boldness bore fruit, and that was integral to growing the early Church.  The Spirit certainly was at work, but these human representatives had to do their work first.  The question is whether they would have been able to walk in such authority and with such abundant fruit had they tried to proclaim the Gospel quietly and without controversy.

If we are wise and familiar with the word, we know that the fruits of our spiritual labor will take many forms.  One form is persecution.  In waging this war against darkness, we will be attacked by our adversaries.  If we are effective, we will stir the spiritual pot, and that will bring the logical result of warfare.  It tells us and those watching us that this is real.  The proof will be in the courage of our ministry.  It must be bold; we must disregard fear.  They may shackle us, but we will speak.  We will not be silenced.  We will not be run back home.  Father, give us the courage and boldness to walk out this faith proudly regardless of consequences, setting a real example for those who are watching and learning from us.