Thursday, April 23, 2009

We Must Obey God, Not Other People!

When the court officers brought the apostles before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them. “We gave you strict orders not to teach in the name of Jesus. But you have been preaching and teaching all over the city of Jerusalem, and you are blaming us for this man’s death.”

Peter and the apostles replied:

We must obey God, not other people. You killed Jesus by nailing him to a cross. But the God of our ancestors raised him to life and made him our leader and savior. Then God gave him a place at his right side, so that the people of Israel might turn to him, repent, and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit, who is God’s gift to everyone who chooses to obey God’s will.

When the council members heard this, they became so angry that they wanted to put the apostles to death.

(Acts 5:27-33)

Look at those apostles. They break out of jail, with the help of an angel, and when arrested by the Sanhedrin. What was their offense? It was preaching the love of God in Jesus Christ. How did they answer the charge against them? We have to obey God, not other people.

Obey is a very interesting word. It means to follow orders, or to abide by the advice of someone else. Its Latin root word consists of two parts, a root word, the verb audire, meaning to hear; and the prefix ob, which is an intensive modifier of the verb. In brief, to obey is to listen closely, or to pay attention.

So, the apostles were paying attention to Jesus’ command to “Go and teach all nations”. Beginning in Jerusalem, and going from there to Athens, to Rome, to Macedonia, and eventually to the whole world, the apostles and disciples of Jesus and their successors have been obedient to the mission they have been given. And the message they preach and teach is a simple one: God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son that whoever believes in Him might have everlasting life. God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that through him the world might be saved. How can you, a disciple of Jesus in today’s world, be obedient to the mission you have been given? Simple: Love God will all your heart, and mind and might; and love your neighbor as yourself.

God’s will is an invitation to love. Remember the promise, “Whoever believes in the Son has live eternal”. Eternal life begins here and now, by loving one another. And loving one another begins by loving ourselves as Jesus does – because if Jesus thinks you’re worth dying for, who are you to say you’re not worth loving yourself.

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