There are three events in the life of our church that were part of my motivation to spend some time in the opening chapters of Acts. This Sunday’s focus on prayer for our elections, next Sunday’s elections for new elders and deacons, and then Pentecost Sunday two weeks after that. These next three texts in Acts match up with those three events. I am trusting the Holy Spirit to be the one guiding and speaking to our hearts through His Word and into our lives, both personally and corporately. But what about GEMS Sunday? Does it fit in to all of this in some way? The theme for GEMS this year is “In His Steps.” It is based on I John 2:6 which says, “whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” One of the aims of their study this year is “to learn how to live by listening to Jesus and acting on what He says.” How do you do that when Jesus is not among us? How do you seek the will of God? How do you wait for the Lord? If you are at all impatient like I can be sometimes, then I have bad news, Christianity is waiting.
Dave Barry is a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columnist who wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for about 25 years. Phama and I laughed out loud at a lot of his humor. We learned whenever he wrote, “Seriously, I am not making this up” that was a sure sign he was in fact definitely making it up. Peter is arguing he is definitely not making up what he is saying about Jesus, and the proof of that is found in two things, we were eye witness, and better yet, we have the prophetic Word. Peter’s authority was being challenged, so he grounds it in two reasons.
Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding professions as well as one of the most exasperating. There is this rule out there that says there are no dumb questions so with a straight face they have to answer questions like: What keeps islands from floating away? Is Shakespeare still writing plays? If there’s a speed of light … what’s the speed of dark? Why do meteorites always land in craters? What are those pyramid shaped things in Egypt called?
Have you ever been in one of those awkward situations where someone is repeating themselves and you aren’t quite sure how to act? Do you just act like it’s the first time, do you say “You said that already?” You know, like when I repeated that announcement just now. And you all just though I was losing my mind, right? Peter repeats himself three times in this short passage but he’s not losing his mind either, there is good reason for what he is doing.
So how would you say you are doing this morning? Fine. Yeah, but, really? Do you have your world by the tail or does your world seem to have you? As I sometimes say, are you just hanging on to the world by the grass? Do you feel like there are things going on that seem out of your control or you can’t figure out how to change or fix? Maybe there are things in you, habits, issues, you seem powerless to control. Maybe you are dealing with some physical or health issues, illness, pain, cancer. Maybe there are some things in your relationships or in your marriage that don’t seem right but you don’t know what to do, you feel powerless to change. Maybe somethings with your kids. Kids are a huge challenge, they have a way of pushing us past our pay grade, past our abilities and wisdom. How about at work, on the job, at the office? Things could be different or better, but how? You can’t seem to get a handle on it. And how about our world. Yikes, the headlines and breaking news stories just keep getting crazier and crazier. Things seem to be spiraling out of control and all kinds of smart people have all kinds of conflicting ideas. Trade wars and war wars. The stock market. Milk prices down, but other commodity prices are up. Do you feel powerless, weak, uncertain, foolish? Or where you just fine until I started talking, but now not so much? Is ignorance bliss?
What if Easter is really just the world’s biggest April Fool’s Day joke? What if is all just a big lie? What if the really smart people in the world are right? What if Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan and Bill Nye the Science Guy are all right and there is no one out there and there is nothing after death? What if John Lennon was right and there is no heaven above us, but only sky? What if Karl Marx was right, that religion is just the opiate of the people, something dreamed up to make us feel better and take away the fear of death? What if the opioid crisis in American is Christianity? Paul raises that question in I Corinthians 15:12-19 and says if Christ is not raised from the dead then we are all fools and our faith is in vain.