Scripture - Acts 4:29 - Now, Lord, consider their threats
Theme - Threats
Devotion - Peter and John faced the threat of violence, literal death, as they faced the authorities. I suppose it would be easy to dismiss this as discontected from our experience. We don't face that particular threat. But that doesn't mean we won't face threats.
If we think back to the life of Jesus we can think of illustrations of those who found that following Jesus was too threatening. For instance in Luke 4 when Jesus announces that he has come to announce the reign of God and its good news for the dispossessed, incarcerated and oppressed, the people are excited. When he further announces that this liberation will be for all people and not just Jews, they become furioius and drive him out of town. The welcoming of strangers & immigrants, community of care for all regardless of nationality or ethnicity if a threat. A wealthy ruler approaches Jesus in Luke 18 seeking to be a follower. When Jesus announces he must sell his possessions and give to the poor, the wealthy man goes away. Letting go of the financial security as well as the social power he gains from wealth and possession is too threatening.
Finally, in Luke 14 Jesus offers this unsettling statement, '"If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters--yes, even their own life--such a person cannot be my disciple." It's so shocking that it is easily dismissed. Not meant to be taken literally, this is still an important reminder that allegiance and fidelity to Jesus can negatively impact our social networks, our friendships, our standing in our neighborhood. This is the threat we face more than literal physical violence. The threat, perhaps never actually stated, still echoes in our minds, 'what will my friends and family think, what will the neighbors say, if I follow Jesus and his radical generosity, welcome of stranger and alien, & solidarity with the poor?' What is it about Jesus life that is most threatening to you? that is most threatening to our culture and society?
Prayer - Remind us Lord that while you did come to comfort those who mourned and suffered, you also came to disturb and unsettle those who were complacent about such suffering. Forgive us for domesticating you to the role of friend only. Take your place as our leader whom we follow even when your commands are challenging. And give us courage when following you is threatening.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.