I have been unable to blog these past few weeks. I hope to explain why in my next post. For now, a post from Acts 4.
Recently, Orlando’s news included the needless shooting death of Christina Grimmie. Christiana was, by everyone’s estimation, set to become the next vocal superstar. Then, roughly twenty-four hours after Grimmie’s death, a gunman walked into the Pulse Nightclub and ended the lives of 49 people. Then, a few days later, a mother and a father were lounging on a beach while their two-year old son played in a mere foot of water when an alligator attacked and killed him. Unthinkable – Tragedy!
Those were the headlines we all saw. There was no avoiding it! At the church I call home, we sought to address these tragedies in a sermon titled: A Hunger For God In The Face Of Uncertainties from Psalm 31. If interested, you can listen to it here: http://www.trinityfla.org/sermon-feed/.
Appropriately, all the news coverage was on these horrific events. But, I wondered what other news was happening during all that, that we didn’t get to see. Here is one of those newsworthy stories that did not see the light of day.
Pastor Han, of Chiangbai, China was brutally murdered (hacked to death) by North Korean secret agents. www.opendoorsusa.org reported that; “The purpose behind the murder was to provide a “warning” to Christians in China, who actively assisted North Korean refugees.”
Did you catch that? The North Korean government doesn’t want the Chinese and Korean pastors to do anything to assist any North Korean refugees. And so, they brutally killed a man to send out a warning!
I try to imagine Pastor Han’s church and his family. Devastation. Unthinkable tragedy. Yet, even in the midst of their sorrow, they continue to gather and pray. Yet another reminder that I only face 1st World Problems! Read 1st World Problems: Here
I love Acts 3&4. It’s got it all. A crippled man is found sitting at the temple gate begging for money. Peter and John bump into this man and tell him:
“I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.
(Acts 3:6-7 ESV)
Imagine this man! We are told he went from that place “walking, and leaping, and praising God.” I would think so, wouldn’t you?!?
But that is not the end of the story…. An amazing encounter then ensues between Peter and John and the local people who question them and the healing that had taken place. The questions grow, and in Chapter 4 we see the religious leaders chime in with questions of their own. This whole exchange makes for great reading. You should pause and read Acts 3 & 4.
The religious leaders saw that this whole event was something to be stomped out. They too want to make an example of these men not unlike Pastor Han. Check out what they decide to do with Peter and John and the miraculous event.
But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
(Acts 4:17-18 ESV)
Incredible, a man was healed and now they want to ensure that Christ’s name does not spread! What will Peter, John, and Pastor Han do? Wring their hands, cower, obey man or obey God? No, they did not cower and they did not wring their hands saying or thinking, “What’s the world coming to?” Rather, with a mind-set on obeying God and not man, and with a heart of faith, they were exclaiming, “Look what’s come to the world!” This is where Peter and John pointed all those who would listen to Jesus Christ. Acts is a book of gospel advancement. While the officials sought to stop this advance, the name of Christ spread. In the face of opposition, the Word of God advanced. This becomes the consistent refrain to the persecution found in the book of Acts.
But Peter and John answered them, “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.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened.
(Acts 4:19-21 ESV)
May God bless the many Christians around the world, like Pastor Han, who we never hear of in the news; men and woman who are persecuted for following and serving Christ.
And, may God help you and I who live in such comforts, unaware of our brother’s and sister’s persecution around the globe. Perhaps we would do well to consider less “What the world has come to” and look more to “What has come to the world.”
Christina Grimmie – “In Christ Alone”