Daily D – Acts 4:19-20
Acts 4:19, 20 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” (NLT)
We live in the Bossypants Generation. Everyone, it seems, wants to be in charge. Many of these wannabe bigshots can’t lead themselves with focus and integrity, yet they want to tell you and me how it has to be. Here’s the truth: It has always been this way. And, yes, there is a better way.
It is hard to miss texts like this one in the Book of Acts. Those first believers knew ultimate authority. They knew Jesus. They saw his lifeless body. They witnessed his resurrected reality. They stood amazed in his presence as he ascended to heaven. They heard his repeated words of commission. Again, they knew who was in charge, and it wasn’t those who threatened them with mean words, harsh punishments, and ultimatums leading to death.
He who had, and has, the power of life is Ultimate Authority. What he says goes. What everyone else says either aligns or falls away as insignificant by comparison.
Check out how the multiplying disciples prayed in response to what happened to Peter and John. The rest of the story is found in Acts 4:23-31.
See how those disciples responded to more harsh treatment in 5:17 and following. Give special attention to verse 29:
But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”
Take a look at 8:3 and 4. Again and again, those disciples of Jesus knew ultimate authority proceeded from heaven, not from political officials, religious establishments, or councils of men (and they were almost always men). They obeyed God rather than human authority.
We have more and more opportunities to live like them. This is not an invitation to so-called Christian nationalism which is in no way Christian. Jesus didn’t gather warriors. Jesus gathered peacemakers and blessed them (Matthew 5:9). More William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King, Jr., please.
Obeying God does not permit us to act like jerks. It is a commission to be God’s ambassadors with the great good news of his limitless love, unmerited favor, and amazing grace. It’s hard not to smile when delivering God in all his goodness. It is impossible to live without joy when we are filled with his Spirit.
I will obey God rather than human authority and do so with the joy of an open hand.
Our Father, you are in charge here, and we are not. Make us more like Jesus and less like the powerful potentates who punish all who disagree with them. Deliver us from the temptations of power and the sins of those who so easily divide one from another for their personal gain. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.
Psalm 52:8, 9 ”But I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God’s faithful love forever and ever. I will praise you forever for what you have done. In the presence of your faithful people, I will put my hope in your name, for it is good.“