'And when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.’
Acts 5: 40-42
(picture: The Stoning of Stephen)
The apostles get beaten for preaching. They rejoice in that privilege... and shame. And so then they go preaching Christ again immediately. Not only that, mark verse 42 - 'They did not cease.'
This ruins me. According to the bible this is normal Christianity.
The book of Acts tells the story of the early church, the first Christians. Allow me to tease you, possibly offend you. The following might be in the trailer to the movie for the book of Acts: Tongues of fire, a mighty rushing wind, strange new heavenly languages, outrageously bold preaching by simple men, deadly persecutors turned (temporarily) blind by Jesus and sovereignly made apostles without asking, sovereign Holy Spirit outpourings, 8 years bedridden Paralysis healed, dead men raised, translations in the spirit, angelic visitations, stoning, mocking and heroic martyrdoms, doctrinal fights, beautiful community, angels freeing people from prison, trances, visions, lying Christians dropping dead on the spot (by the Holy Spirit), occult troublemakers being cursed with blindness by the Holy Spirit, an evil king being struck dead by an angel for lack of humility and earthquakes in prisons (during prison worship services).
God builds His church whatever man tries to do to stop it. And it’s never boring. But is the above what springs to mind when you think of Christianity?
You see, there's no church building or church service in the Book of Acts - just action, celebration, persecution and revolution. Those disciples turned the world upside down then met for a burger to tell stories, comb the scripture, pray and get more high and more bold.
When the action is over we like to build a church building and sit in it. Institution thrives where action is dormant, powerless ritual gathers around disobedience. (And we "pastors" need to make our goal unemployment). God bless every wineskin out there as long as it doesn't thwart the new wine. Because we were all born for more and heaven invades earth when His people are on fire.
I tried to look at my phone in the blazing sun today. I couldn’t see the picture. Light doesn’t shine bright in light. We, the church, are all too prone to wave our little candle in a brightly lit studio, where bibles are on every cushioned chair and there’s inexpensive lattes next to the bookshop at the back. There you can purchase books about preaching the gospel and then read them quietly in the comfortable sofas.
How about we go to a dark place near us and just preach the gospel? It will be like a bomb went off in the spirit – as the supernatural white light of the anointing blinds, confuses and dazzles the demonic realm whilst frightening angels pour in on the ladder of our agreement, demolishing strongholds. Fear, poverty, depression and infirmity will be cast out as we walk in the love and power of God, taking back the devil-ravaged land. Dead souls revived, hell plundered, heaven populated. That seems like a good day to me.
The gospels tell us that Jesus was known for being friend of the especially wicked (Matthew 11:19 AMP). Turn on in the light or turn on in the darkness? Get out of the building, church, you are the building.