On the day I called, you answered me; you made me bold in my soul with strength.
We mistakenly expect life to be simple and easy this side of heaven. This can cause great confusion when trials come. I often find myself surprised when things are hard, but we shouldn’t be! In Acts 3, God did a great miracle through Peter, and then Peter faithfully preached the gospel. Acts 4 should contain the apostles chilling at the beach celebrating the big win, right? Yet in Acts 4, we don’t find celebration, we find persecution.
 And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,  greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.  And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
Acts 4:1-3 (ESV)
When persecution came, they could have simply said, “Well, being so public with this whole Gospel thing is obviously not God’s will, let’s try to be a little more subtle.” Of course, they didn’t do this! In Acts 4, we see at least 3 ways the early church remained bold in the midst of trials.
First, they remembered the King. They brought the Apostles before the high priest and asked, “By what power, or by what name did you do this?” Of course they are asking about the lame man who was walking, and leaping and praising God. What do the Apostles do? Well, Peter takes the opportunity to brag on Jesus.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders,  if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed,  let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well.  This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.  And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:8-12 (ESV)
After their bold declaration, the religious rulers essentially say, “Well don’t do that no more.” To which Peter and John reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20 ESV) You see, they knew who was seated on the throne. They knew who was in charge. Because they remembered the King, they stayed bold in the midst of trial.
Second, they prayed. We may be tempted to see the early church and think they are super-human. Bolder, more passionate, and just generally better than us. Yet they were weak and fallen humans just like us. In verses 24-30, we see the church gathered together praying. In verse 29 they pray, “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.” Is this not the prayer we need? We are broken, needy people who have been given the message of salvation to share with the nations. We need boldness. And yet we only find that boldness when we look to King Jesus who boldly went to the cross and defeated sin and death for us. So we go to him and ask for boldness in the face of trial.
Finally, they stood together.
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.” – Acts 4:32 (ESV)
As Christians, there may be moments we are called to stand alone with Christ, but this is not the norm. God has given us the church. The question is, have we so deeply embraced the gospel that we can live with “one heart and soul?” Jesus calls us to live boldly, but he also calls us to community. He calls us to be a part of his family. As you seek to be a light, remember that what happens in community with other believers is the fuel for what happens as you shine into the world.
The early saints weren’t super-human or super Christians. They were people who knew their King and entrusted their lives to him together. We want to have their boldness, so let’s embrace their ways. Prayerful, gospel proclaiming, Jesus focused communities, that is what the church is called to be. Let’s be it.
Grace & Peace.
Daily Reading: Today’s bible reading is Acts 4.