Connections 04.24.2022: Taking a Stand

Acts 5:17-21, 25-32

Imagine taking a stand for something, being arrested for it, getting out of jail, and going right back out to take another stand, knowing you might be arrested again…or worse. This is the story of history’s biggest moments, from wars to civil rights movements to causes of many kinds. A group of people take a stand for a cause they believe in, and they keep taking that stand no matter the consequences. Sometimes this kind of passion leads to great suffering. Sometimes it leads to devastation. Sometimes it leads to widespread change.

The apostles in our text from Acts have been through intense trials over the last weeks and months. They’ve listened to their beloved Jesus preach about his suffering and death; witnessed his pain and heard (from the women who stayed at the cross) how the life left his body; locked themselves in a room in fear for their own lives; encountered the Risen Christ—fully glorified and changed but also still himself; and watched him leave the world they know and go to be with God. After all of these events, I’d expect them to scatter, give up, and return to life as they knew it before Jesus shook everything up. But they don’t.

They continue Jesus’ mission with more fervor and dedication than they’ve ever had before. They preach. They heal. They minister. They love. They listen. They share. And they suffer.

Like so many world changers in history, these apostles were arrested and jailed for their actions. But that didn’t stop them. As soon as the Holy Spirit freed them from prison, they went right back to what got them arrested in the first place. “We must obey God rather than any human authority,” they insisted (v. 29). And that’s what they did. Because of them—and the many gospel ministers down through the ages of history—we can know Christ today and minister in his name.

Change is hard to come by, especially when it involves overturning deeply ingrained systems of injustice and oppression. But when dedicated, faithful, determined people fight for it, it just may come and make the world a better place.

Discussion

• What are some stories from history that involve people who took a stand for a righteous cause and suffered for their actions? Did change ever come? If so, how?
• What do you think it was like for the apostles after their beloved friend and leader, Jesus Christ, physically left them? How did they maintain their courage in the face of temple police and other authorities who tried to stop them?
• We must always obey God first, but how can we balance this obedience with our responsibilities as citizens who are beholden to certain laws? What should we do when these laws contradict our obedience to God?
• What causes are important to you? What are you willing to risk to fight for those causes?
• How do you know that God is with you as you work to make things right in the world?

Kelley Land, a graduate of Mercer University, has been an assistant editor of Smyth & Helwys curriculum and books since 2001. In addition to this work, she is a freelance editor for other publishers and authors. She also regularly volunteers for Jay’s HOPE, a nonprofit serving families of children with cancer. Kelley enjoys spending time with her teenage daughters, Samantha and Natalie, her husband John, and the family’s two dachshund mix pups, Luke and Leia. She likes supporting community theater productions and is often found playing board games with a group of rowdy friends. She loves Marvel, Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Doctor Who. And she writes middle grade and young adult fiction for the pure joy of it.

*****

For further resources, subscribe to the Connections Teaching Guide and Commentary. Additionally, the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary series is a scholarly but accessible means for enhancing your study of each lesson.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Comment

*