“But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison.” (Acts 5:17–18, ESV)
Yesterday, I shared how the disciples of Jesus were gathering in the temple, and amazing things were happening. People were healed. And it says that more than ever believers were added to the Lord. People came from all over to witness what was happening and to participate in it. Times were good.
But the good times did not last long. Those who were in power were threatened. The ruling party was jealous of the attention the apostles and the followers of Jesus were receiving. As a result, the apostles were put into prison.
When the kingdom of God advances, it is natural to encounter resistance. Maybe you have discovered that when you are doing the right thing, it is not always received as positively as you might expect. Often, the resistance comes from the places we least expect it. It was the religious establishment was the source of the resistance and persecution in this instance.
Several years ago, I invited a missionary to speak at our church about persecution. The message was very different than what I expected. I expected him to share about the persecution of the church by outside groups. But what he spoke about was about Christians persecuting other Christians. The persecution resulted when one group felt that its power and prestige was threatened by another.
It’s not good when we value power and position more than the advancement of the kingdom of God. When Jesus talks about denying ourselves, it might very well be a matter of us humbling ourselves to allow others to succeed. Are we willing to allow others to “advance” beyond us for the greater glory of God and greater kingdom impact?
- Have you ever been surprised by resistance you have received from within the body of Christ?
- Where have you prized power and position more than God’s glory and kingdom.
Lord, give me humility, to prize your good more than my good. Help me set aside the desire for prestige and position. Guard me against hindering your kingdom work through others when I feel threatened. Amen.