Acts 5:33-42

            People talk about things which are important to them.  Even quiet and introverted individuals will speak at length, barely taking a breath, if you get them on a topic they are passionate about.
            Today’s New Testament lesson has the Apostles speaking incessantly about someone they love to talk about.  In fact, the Apostles (the original disciples of Jesus) talked so much about what they loved that the Jewish ruling council of the time (the Sanhedrin) wanted to shut them up by killing them.  But a wise member of the council saw the foolishness of this and persuaded them against it.  Instead, the council gave the Apostles a thorough whipping, warned them to stop talking all the time, and let them go.
            There is a time to listen, and there is a time to speak.  The Apostles could not keep silent.  They considered their beating an act of solidarity with their Lord Jesus and went right on talking.  The text says: “Every day they spent time in the temple and in one home after another.  They never stopped teaching and telling the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”
            The joy of knowing Jesus – crucified, risen, ascended, and coming again – is such a full experience that one cannot help but talk and speak about him incessantly.  Even in the face of persecution, the ecstasy of knowing Christ transcends physical pain and suffering.
            Consider the Apostles, and think about the church today.  There are places throughout the world where the scenario of constant chatter about Jesus is taking place with joy, despite the presence of persecution.  There are also places, mainly in America, where talking about Jesus does not even take place in the church building where believers gather to worship, let alone out in the public square.
            The great tragedy of the contemporary Western church is that you can talk about only the weather, the latest sports, political happenings, and get away with never speaking about Jesus.
            Today, allow two different emotions to sway your prayers and speech.  First, allow the joy of the Lord Jesus to fill you and give you freedom to speak his Name and the grace he gives to others.  Second, allow a sorrowful lament to rise from your heart and speak it out loudly before God concerning the great silence of the church in the West.

 

Loving Lord Jesus, you save completely those who come to you by faith.  Thank you for the work of forgiveness and healing that takes place in your Name everyday in the world.  Yet, I also lament the many confessing believers in your Name who never speak of the good news in their everyday conversations, even at church.  Lord, have mercy.  Christ have mercy.  Lord have mercy, and grant us peace.  Amen.

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