The Apostles' Prison Break
Last week Luke told us how the infant Christian church was flourishing, it was growing in numbers, people were coming to salvation, they were together in worship and prayer, gifts were being used to the glory of God, people were being generous, loving, caring, the apostles were preaching with great power and authority, God was doing miracles every day, Christ was being proclaimed and exalted. It was a glorious season of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. But. That’s how our text begins. But. Why does it seem like in the midst of good times there has to be a but? Such is life on this side of heaven, life where there is an enemy of all that is good. Luke is an honest writer and an honest historian. He doesn’t just paint a rosy picture for his friend Theophilus. Luke’s history is filled with troubles, trials and prisons. In some ways the book of Acts reads like a police blotter of arrests, beatings, torture and harassment. There is a price to be paid for bearing witness to Jesus Christ, the price is suffering. The servant is not above the master. Jesus suffered for doing good, so will His followers. Everywhere the apostles and followers of Jesus went they stirred up trouble. Just their presence incited reactionary anger and protests from the ungodly. There will be reactions in an increasingly hostile and ungodly culture. Those with bad consciences will always try to silence whatever or whoever pricks their conscience. Luke isn’t just writing to Theophilus, he is writing to 21st century American Christians, preparing us for the trials and storms ahead. Luke wants to show us how to navigate those waters. Whether it’s baking cakes or selling flowers, whether it’s students wanting to host a Christian group on campus or sponsor a Christian speaker, whether it’s Bibles in hotel rooms, whether it’s churches wanting to worship in a country where there are hostile governments, whether it’s Christians protesting killing babies or exercising their freedom of speech, whether it’s Facebook and Twitter censoring Christians who post what Scripture teaches about certain ethical and moral issues, whether it’s subtle digs or discrimination from co-workers, relatives or friends.