I am always a little intimidated and stand in awe of fellow believers who in the face of intimidation and persecution (even death), maintain a courageous, bold (yet respectful) witness! I read their stories and hear the accounts of their faithful witness and find myself praying, “Oh Lord, if I were ever in a situation like that, give me the internal fortitude and conviction to maintain a witness of that quality and conviction!”
This morning during my time of “Coffee with the Lord” I read this inspiring account of courageous, bold witness in the ancient Church…
“Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, ‘We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.’ But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.’ When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people… said to them, ‘Men of Israel… I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!’ So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus!” (from Acts 5:26–42 ESV)
I pray today for those who are suffering for the gospel around the world today (some right here in our nation)! I also pray that if I were ever placed in a similar situation of threat, intimidation and persecution, I would exhibit similar courage and Christ-like boldness! I realize it is a work of the Holy Spirit within the believer (cp. Acts 4:31)! I believe God will enable me… and you… as He has enabled others, should we face persecution and death to be that kind of witness!