And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
The disciples had just been thrown in prison for preaching and teaching Christ. They had just faced the council and been beaten and commanded to stop. So what was it that kept them from obeying the council and choosing to obey God instead? What was it that compelled them to keep preaching and teaching Jesus Christ? Jesus had told them persecution would come, and they had folded under that previously, forsaking Him on the night of His arrest. But now, empowered by His Spirit and fully understanding His truth and what it was about, they gladly suffer shame for His sake.
The disciples displayed an inspiring commitment to Jesus and His Gospel. They rejoiced to suffer for His sake, knowing they were truly doing the work of God and they must continue on. Obeying God was more important that what men commanded them or the hurtful things they had to endure. They weren’t just playing church, but were living out the great commission. They took it seriously even as it was literally a life-and-death matter for them. It was worth it to them to risk everything for the sake of the Gospel and for the sake of Jesus Christ.
What is it that keeps us going in the midst of persecution or trial? Why do we keep serving the Lord and being Christians and standing for His truth in a world that continually tries to silence us? Probably for the same reasons that the disciples did so all those years ago. We do it through Christ’s power alive and at work in us. We do it out of love for the Lord that compels us to speak His truth in love. We do it because we are grateful for our salvation and want others to experience the same. We’ve surrendered to our Master and Lord. We recognize that this world is not our home, that God has power over our lives, and the worst anyone can do is kill our bodies, but they cannot cast out our souls.
The early church was full of people who had everything to lose but who were willing to give it all for Jesus’ sake. We don’t have to be apostles or have a title to serve the Lord and proclaim His name to those around us. All that’s required is a simple desire to give our all for Jesus, to make Him the most important thing in our lives. We may not face the level of persecution that the disciples did, but we don’t have to be bullied into silence, either. May we be willing to be faithful to Jesus, to continue to preach and teach and tell others about our Lord and Savior.