An Illegal Faith

Read Acts 5:17-42

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings!” (Acts 15:29)

“God is God. Because he is God, He is worthy of my trust and obedience. I will find rest nowhere but in His holy will that is unspeakably beyond my largest notions of what he is up to.” ― Elisabeth Eliot

Early Christians were branded as outlaws in the faith community . Though they committed no crime, they were often arrested, persecuted, even killed for their faith. Still, the Way of Christ flourished. As an underground movement, it gained strength. The more opposition they faced, the more determined they became, the more  inflamed with the Spirit. As outlaws in faith, they spread good news and accepted, even celebrated, the suffering doled out as punishment for following the Way of Christ.

At times, God calls us to choose between following human authority and following God. We must choose between what we are told to do and what we know in our hearts we must do. On most occasions, we can do both. We can honor our mother and father and still follow God. We can follow the laws of our community, our nation, which give us freedom for our faith. Yet, sometimes the two conflict and we must choose.

Susan, a 13-year-old girl from Uganda lived in a Muslim family. After devoting her life to Christ, her father began to beat her, once even threatening her with a knife. This went on for months, but Susan refused to deny her Lord and Savior. Finally, he locked her in a small space in their muddy shack. It took six months before neighbors realized what was happening to Susan and called the authorities, who removed her from home and took her to the hospital.

In many places, faith in Christ is illegal. Christians are persecuted, imprisoned, even killed for clinging to Christ. Some turn away. Some go underground. Others proclaim Christ is spite of the risks. They recognize that human authority is passing, but obedience to God is eternal.

When have you been tested to remain obedient to God or give in to others?

How can you best support those who are persecuted for their faith in Christ?

Faithful God, you have shown yourself worthy of our trust. We can depend on you, put our lives in your care. Give us the courage to compromise our faith in Christ when it is tested.

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