In any great story, there is a catalytic moment, when everything changes. When the world which is set up at the start of the story is disrupted or blown apart. It is at this point when the protagonist debates whether he/she will do what they know they must do. They are aware of the dangers or obstacles, and the choice is theirs.
Whilst we are unlikely to find ourselves witnessing a crime, or discovering that a meteorite is hurtling toward earth, or any of the predictable catalytic events portrayed in Hollywood movies, we will often face adversity. This is where our greatest stories so often emerge.
In Acts 4, Peter and John heal a lame man in the Temple, and they preach to thousands. They are then arrested, and threatened. This is their catalytic moment. They can stop sharing about Jesus or they can continue, knowing that likely there will be a cost for such behaviour.
Like all heroic stories, they chose the latter, knowing that to do what they are called to do will cost them. Mark Twain once wrote, ‘courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear — not absence of fear.’ The courageous life is not a life where there is no opposition or fear, but mastery over that fear. It is a courage that is found in God strengthening you.
After their release Peter and John return to the other disciples, and together they know what they must do. They pray.
What they pray is significant. After recognising that God is in control of all things, and that opposition is part of life, especially for those who follow God, they pray these words.
Acts 4: 29-30 “Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
They understand that “threats”, opposition, and even persecution are part of the call. In response they ask for the strength and courage to complete the mission. To stand up against threats and make Jesus known.
We don’t pray that way do we?
We pray, Lord, will you remove us from this situation? Lord will you take it away? When they pray in Acts, they are saying let us proclaim who you are with courage in the face this.
They understand that rarely if ever do we have those great moments where we see God come through without adversity.
For the church to be an unstoppable force, we need to stop praying for comfort, for security, for safety. We need to start praying, for strength, for boldness, and for courage.
What great things can God do in and through us this week if we are bold and courageous? If we follow him, live with the possibility of adversity, and come