Second Sunday of Easter (April 15, 2007)
An angel springs Peter and company from jail, and says to them, “Go, stand in the temple courts, and tell the people the full message of this new life.” These early Christian leaders did just this, to the point that the Jewish leadership, the Sanhedrin, the first century equivalent of the American Supreme Court, said, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching.”
Christianity is just what the angel said: a message of new life that is meant to penetrate the very social fabric of a city. I ask myself concerning my own city, “Are we doing this as a church here in Milwaukee?” More pointedly, am I doing this myself in my own sphere of influence? Well… it wouldn’t be appropriate to stand up in the company cafeteria and start teaching. Yet I am teaching a group of believers for the next four Thursdays starting this Thursday on “Being the Church in the World”. How could we fill our little area of downtown Milwaukee with our teaching? I think I’ll put this to the group Thursday and see what we think up.
We’re so timid. We’re so hapless when it comes to challenging the strongholds of tolerance and privacy. Why is it that the one thing our culture cannot tolerate is people of conviction? How can a “message of new life” possibly remain only a private matter?
The Islamists look at this with disgust. For them, the world is a whole, and is made whole by submission to Islam. For us, the world is also whole, yet made such not by forced submission, but rather by the love of self-sacrice, forgiveness, and reconciliation anchored in the Divine Creator’s own love and righteousness.
This passage strains at the bonds of our capitulation, imploring us, “Don’t hold back.” How will you answer for the sphere of influence which God has entrusted to you?
For a great example of what this might look like see today’s Breakpoint Commentary by Chuck Colson: http://www.breakpoint.org/listingarticle.asp?ID=6353.