I wonder what our response would be to such a warning?

They called them back and warned them that they were on no account ever again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John spoke right back, “Whether it’s right in God’s eyes to listen to you rather than to God, you decide. As for us, there’s no question—we can’t keep quiet about what we’ve seen and heard.” Acts 4:18-20 (The Message)

This was not an empty threat on the part of the religous rulers, they had the power to raise up a crowd to stone Peter and John to death, if they so wished. With such a threat hanging over their heads why would Peter and John refuse to be warned? Why wouldn’t they just quietly slip away accepting the warning and be thankful to leave with their lives?

The answer is a simple one, because of  ‘what we have seen and heard.’ The reason they would not back down was because of the powerful acts of God they had witnessed and the teaching of the kingdom of God that Jesus had given in their hearing. Our Christianity today, in the West, rarely provides us with the same powerful conviction. It is hard to get Christian people to speak about their faith in public never mind to get them to be quiet. We have the wake of a great impact on our society of Christianity but that is all that it is. Heritage and memory of days gone by when the Church was an important institution in people’s social and spiritual lives. Some how the experience of God and the power of Jesus’ teaching has become a long lost memory and, if believers are to lead others to a vibrant and life transforming faith,  that must change.

So where do we start? Well, we start with one person seeking God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. We start with one person giving their all that they might gain all in Jesus. We begin with the commitment to stand up for what we know and believe to be true, through engaging with God’s Word and his Spirit as life transforming realities in our daily lives. We begin, when challenged about our faith to stand firm because of ‘what we’ve seem and heard’ too!

May we have the strength of our conviction of faith in Christ today through what we see and hear and may we stand firm when other seek to dissuade or intimidate us. Amen.