Set The Tone | Church
On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem… Acts 8:1
Things were heating up. Jerusalem authorities had declared war on Christ followers, declaring them troublemakers. Christians were disrupting the status quo and they needed to be stopped. Religion had been fine before that Rabbi showed up with His talk about sin and hell and a better way. The town elders had hoped His popularity would fade away as it had with other rabble rousers before Him, but when neighbors started spouting that stuff too, something had to be done. Threats and intimidation hadn’t shut them up, so it was time to get rough. If those Christ-followers wanted to play church, it was gonna cost them.
This happened before there were any recognized churches. In fact, at this time, Christians were merely called followers of The Way. So how did the authorities know whom to arrest? How could there be persecution against a church if there was no formal organization? The answer should pierce our hearts. Jesus followers had to volunteer for that persecution by boldly living out what they claimed to believe. They had been so radically changed by the power of Jesus that they were easily recognizable by their lifestyles. They no longer flirted with idolatry. Dead religion held no fascination for them. They abandoned immorality and were generous with each other. When one fell, the others gathered round to help him up. They didn’t go to church, they WERE the church and lived it publicly, knowing the consequences. Living as the Church has always been a privilege with price tag.
If it became illegal to be a Christian, would your lifestyle provide enough evidence to convict you?
Jesus, is my commitment to you and your church that strong? I take freedom for granted and blow off chances to worship and serve you with my church. Do my choices demonstrate that I know you? Help me live boldly for you. Amen.