So they seized them and took them into custody until the next day since it was already evening. But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. (Acts 4:3-4)
In today’s reading Peter and John are preaching the gospel after performing a miracle of healing in the name of Jesus on the lame beggar. Not only did Peter and John just receive the Holy Spirit, but after this miracle, they must have absolutely been on fire for sharing the gospel to everyone in Jerusalem and living fully in power of the Holy Spirit. They lived in the power of the Holy Spirit despite the real pressure of persecution, which they faced immediately. As Christians, we are commissioned to spread the gospel (Matt. 28:16-20), yet we can fail to do so on the daily. And while our persecution may not be imprisonment or other tangible events, we certainly face fears in other ways that we can fight.
Unlike Peter and John, we rarely face physical persecution in America, and we should be deeply grateful for this freedom that is not always found abroad. However, there is an entirely, and arguably more difficult form of attack instead: the need to be accepted, to obtain status, worldliness, and self-centeredness. These feelings and attacks, while real and can be strong, are simply deeply rooted lies that we have bought into. The truth is that we are accepted by God through Christ Jesus (Jn. 6:37) and our status is already an imitator of God (Eph. 5:1-2). We are deeply cared for and given everything we need (Matt. 6:25-34) and we have the Holy Spirit to lead us in love and to love selflessly even when it hurts.
Wherever you’re at, reflect on this question. What would your life look like if you were living fully in the power and confidence of the Holy Spirit? If you no longer truly felt shame or fear? As long as we are in our fleshly bodies, we may not always do what we want to do, even Paul shares this in his letter to the Romans (Rom. 7:14-25). But what we can do is lean into God more intimately and rest in what He has for us, not just what we want for ourselves, and our courage and faith will aid in bringing people to Jesus.