Signs and Wonders! — Week One
What does it mean to be a baptized Christian? It means that sometimes we are called to take risks and even make sacrifices in order to witness to our faith in Jesus Christ. In the Acts of the Apostles, the disciples are depicted as fulfilling the command of Jesus to be his "witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Empowered by the Holy Spirit they go about this work of teaching "in his name" (which is the charge the high priest levels against them in this lesson), proclaiming the message of Christ, and engaging in acts of power, wonders, and signs. In spite of the fact that they have been ordered to stop doing these things, they persist to the point that they are arrested in thrown in prison repeatedly throughout the book of Acts.
What risky thing did Peter and the apostles proclaim? What was it they said that made the council so angry that they wanted to kill them for saying it (verse 33)? They proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus Christ! So one of the things that it means to be a baptized Christian is that we proclaim the resurrection of Christ. But what is the power of the resurrection for us who are still living on this earth? It is the power to transform the world into the Kingdom of God. It is the power given to us by the Holy Spirit to teach, to heal, and to offer signs and wonders in his name. It is a power that calls us to be like him, to be his body, to reach out to the feed the hungry, heal the sick, and eat with sinners.
How are the people in the congregations we serve taking risks and making sacrifices for the proclamation of the gospel? How do we demonstrate that the power of life in Christ is stronger than the power of death? Are there times when it is more important to follow the law of God than the laws of man? When is it necessary to take extraordinary measures to proclaim resurrection faith? What kinds of oppressions and persecutions require that we, as followers of Jesus Christ, take actions that may cost us something? What cost are we willing to pay? Are there causes for which we might be willing to be arrested and put in jail? Are there causes for which we might be willing to suffer negative publicity or lose members in order to do that which we feel God is calling us to do? Are there causes for which it would be better to die than to live in a way that is not faithful to the message of the one whom we serve?