27 June 2012
But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.”
Christians should be loyal citizens, and they should be seen to be loyal by those in authority. A nation with many Christians may expect to be stable and peaceful. At the same time human authorities should know that Christians have a higher King who receives the devotion of their hearts and who has the final call on their loyalty.
The apostles had only just begun preaching the good news of Christ when their loyalty was tested. Such was their allegiance to the Risen Christ that they did not for a moment consider submitting to the unlawful and oppressive demands of the Jewish leaders. The Jewish council demanded that the apostles cease teaching the people about the Lord Jesus, and it is Peter’s response which starkly underlines the principle by which they were guided. For Peter it was the choice between God and man. Two factors in the apostles’ action are worthy of comment. First, they acted together (5:29); they consulted, and they stood as one. Second, they disobeyed when the gospel was at stake (5:30); this was the issue of central importance.
Christians do not seek confrontation with authorities. Rather they pray that they will be able to live quietly and peacefully in godliness (1 Tim. 2:1-2). Believers recognize that authority is from God, and therefore they submit “for the Lord’s sake to every human institution” (1 Peter 2:13). Yet times may come, as they did for the apostles, when obedience to a law established by human authority would require a Christian to disobey God. At this point the Christian must graciously and clearly obey God rather than men.
The hour of trial may come when the believer, or a fellowship of Christians, must decide who has ultimate authority: God or a man. Only those who rely on the Lordship of Christ will withstand the temptation to bow down to men.
article adapted from Kairos Journal
First Baptist Church of Perryville is located one and a half miles east of Rt. 222, across from the Principio Health Center.