Rejoicing in Persecution (Acts 5:17-42)
Sep 27, 2010 by Craig Blomberg | 0 Comments
“The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name” (v. 41; TNIV)
“He’s a good football player but he’s a horrible man,” the young adult daughter of a neighbor recently exclaimed loudly and passionately in our living room. No, not someone caught for steroid use. Not someone convicted of a violent crime. Not even someone well known for being promiscuous. This non-Christian friend was referring to someone well-known in the NFL for being an evangelical Christian and sharing his faith publicly!
As we speak, one can be (illegally) arrested an imprisoned just for being a Christian in Morocco and Turkey. One can be executed for it in North Korea. In the first months of A.D. 30 in Jerusalem, the apostles were twice arrested and, in this passage, were jailed for preaching about Jesus in public. Hostility against Christ usually takes subtler and/or less drastic forms in the U.S., though the way things have changed in the last fifty years, who knows what persecution may look like here in another twenty-five?
The climax of this story in Acts is a remarkable one. The apostles rejoiced that “they had been counted worthy” of the suffering they experienced—suffering which was more one of public disgrace than physical pain. They hadn’t sought out persecution. They hadn’t deliberately been tactless. But then, as now, if believers are faithful in telling others their beliefs and convictions, rejection, estrangement and hostility will sometimes be the result. Do we have the attitude that recognizes those experiences as being honored by God, even if shamed by the world?