I sat in a church building, looking at the posters proclaiming God’s protection, the leaflets for well-known ministries and the odd newsletter. It struck me how “nice” it all was, how comfortable, how different from the world in which the fledgeling church found itself.
Shortly before the action of Acts 3, Jesus had been arrested, tortured, given a sham trial and crucified by protectionist religious leaders and a brutal government. Surely this was a time for Jesus’ followers to be keeping their heads down, avoiding attention, staying alive?
But Jesus had risen, the Holy Spirit had come, Peter had preached and 3000 people had become believers. So Peter and John pop into town, going right into the centre of where it all happened, the heart of Jewish religion, the seat of its leaders’ power, the Temple itself.
Do they skulk in the shadows, trying to keep out of sight? No, they march up to a well-known lame man, flanked by his friends who’d just carried him there, and heedless of the inevitable reaction of the authorities, publicly heal him in the name of Jesus. And Peter preaches again.
What boldness! What faith! What foolishness!?!
Fast forward 2000 years and 3000 miles. Christianity is the largest religion in the world. Britain is a quiet safe place where freedom of religion and freedom of speech are protected rights. It’s “nice” and comfortable. What’s the worst that could happen if I prayed for that man with a walking stick, told that woman with the toddler about Jesus, shared my faith?
Faith? Really? Jesus is still risen. The Holy Spirit is still come. But I do not move or speak, so I do not see God act.
What stops me? What am I afraid of? Who’s the fool?