Monday, February 21, 2005

Our enemy's courage

"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 and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John . . . and put them in jail . . . commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus . . . and after further threats they let them go." (Acts 4:1-3,18,21)
Now if you heard my sermon this morning on courage from Acts 4, you know that I'm more than just a little impressed with Peter's guts to say what he did to the Sanhedrin (vs.10-12). These same people has just murdered his Master a few weeks earlier and he had no reason to expect better treatment. In fact, you probably noticed how many parallels of thought there are between what happened with Peter and John and Acts 4 and what happened with Jesus prior to his crucifixion.

But having said all that, I have to give the Sanhedrin a wee bit of credit. That's right, you heard me right; the council had some courage that deserves some credit. Now before you think I've lost all my marbles, consider . . .

The Sanhedrin at least had the nerve enough to confront Peter and John. They unjustly jailed them, conspired against them in their obvious innocence, etc., I know. But still, what they did took some courage, and their courage in part enabled Peter to have part of the courage he displayed (and the council took note of - vs.13).

In twenty plus years of full-time ministry, this much I've learned this much is certain: the people to worry about are not those who openly disagree with you and even try to discredit you publicly, but those who disagree with you and are too cowardly to let you know!

If you have an enemy, pray for courage to withstand them. If you've read the Psalms, you know that's a very Biblical thing to do! But pray for your enemies, too. And how so? Surely the best place to start is that God would give them courage - courage to sit down with you and not snipe at you. So Father God, give our enemies courage - and give us still more, to the glory of your name and not our own.