reflections from the prayer room: part one.worthy to suffer
“…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 Jesus as the Christ.” – Acts 5:41-42
I’m reminded of the sermon series by James McDonald from a number of years back on the book of Acts, and his constant emphasis of the disciples being filled with the Holy Spirit as they preached day by day, often defying the local political and religious leaders, and frequently suffering for the “Name” or the “Life.” It is a beautiful and gripping story actually, that is, what we read in Acts chapter five, not unlike the ones we read of in the Heavenly Man, the stories of Viv Grigg here in Tatalon in the 70s and 80s (Cry of the Urban Poor and Companion to the Poor), or even the journals/stories of Dietrich Bonhoeffer during WWII Germany.
But one might ask, how do these men and women of faith stand so defiantly in the face of evil and death? How does Bonhoeffer go back to Germany, after receiving a free passage out of the chaos until the war was over, knowing that death was a good likelihood, or Dr. Grigg walk amidst the second most dangerous slum in Manila, or the disciples preach before the same Kings and Pharisees that put their master to death, or Jesus even, who turned His eyes toward Jerusalem, knowing that his journey was to end in His death.
Well, for starters, Jesus was both acting in obedience to His heavenly father as well as confident that his death did not have the last say, and that victory was on the other side of the cross. And I’ve got to believe it wasn’t much different for the others.
But the other blessing we have, going back to Acts 5, is the gift of the Holy Spirit, given to us as believers following Christ’s ascension into heaven until His second coming, a Spirit to guide us and strengthen us for the journey, because we are not Christ (though little Christ’s as some have said) and thus don’t have strength on our own to follow through for the sake of the gospel.
“Lord, I know there are things happening in this world right now, wars, slavery, violence, and atrocities, worse than we can imagine. I pray for your peace and security Lord in those dark places. And for Your light to shine. Give Your church, Your Bride, Your hands and feet in this world, and your angels and heavenly army success and favor in bringing down the high places of the evil one and defeating the enemy on earth as it has already been done in Heaven. Send your heavenly army to fight for us when it is too great a battle for us, and move Your Spirit into those places. Set up places of worship; bring reconciliation, healing, and redistribution; and give us the courage as Your church to continue discerning Your Spirit, and relocating to expand and strengthen Your Kingdom/church when called. I pray the same for myself Lord, for courage and faith and obedience. And for wisdom, humility, and discernment. I relate with Bonhoeffer, with Viv, and Pastor Sonny, and the Sojourners and intentional Christian communities living out Your gospel in the States and around the world, Your “confessing church” if you will. Not to mention my brothers and sisters at HTC on the west side of Chicago, the youth and adults here at LRC in Tatalon, the home church in Montalban, the churches in Georgia, Kenya, Costa Rica, London, Dominican Republic, etc. Lord, be with the persecuted church too, and those facing death daily for simply speaking of You and Your Kingdom. Help me to continue this process of dying to myself and becoming more like You, that I too one day might be counted worthy to suffer. Day by Day. Amen.”