Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name. (Acts 5:41)
While I was working on my undergraduate degree at UH Manoa, I felt compelled to start a Bible study group in my cohort. I knew I would experience some type of pushback since many of our professors and classmates were not too fond of Christianity. They viewed it as an exclusive and offensive religion. Nevertheless, I believed the Holy Spirit was calling me to move forward. So I invited the five Christians I knew of, and we started meeting once a week to read the Bible and pray for our classmates and professors. News traveled about our group and as expected, several classmates began to withdraw from socializing with us, and soon, certain people began to spread false claims about me. I remember one day feeling really down about it, and as I began to throw myself a nice big pity party, Jesus’ words crossed my mind, “You are blessed when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12).
I bet when Peter and John were being whipped and scourged, these words came to their mind. Notice that in verse 41 of today’s chapter that Peter and John didn’t throw themselves a pity party like I had, but Luke tells us that they were jumping up for joy at the opportunity to suffer for Jesus! Many people begin to rethink the choices they’ve made for God, especially when there’s a major cost involved. But here we see Peter and John being severely beaten, and they don’t even hesitate, but instead they consider it a privilege, not just to bleed, but to bleed “on behalf of the Name” (5:41).
God is always calling us to do something that will cost us. In fact, to be Christian is to count and pay a cost (see Luke 14:28). God is always calling us to fight specific sins that make our life uncomfortable. God is always calling us to give our time, reputation, possessions, physical energy, love, and relationships which can make life challenging.
It’s only until you realize that Jesus Christ is so rare that His value cannot be determined—that’s when you will rejoice at the opportunity to sacrifice for Him. Let’s pray that we experience the same joy that the apostles did when they suffered for Jesus’ name!