And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.

Acts 4: 33

 

If you want to look upon a time in the history of the church when there was great turmoil and personal danger for followers of Christ, these early days were probably as hard as any that ever have come along. Jesus had been defeated, and His band of disciples seemingly had no head. At least that was what those in power in government and religion thought to be the situation. Kill the leader and threaten the followers into submission and all would be well for the status quo of the day. However, God was setting about proving all of them wrong. He was stepping into the world in ways that no one had ever seen before.

 

In Jesus, God had entered into the daily existence of creation. As the man who was also God, Jesus demonstrated His power and authority over sea and earth, plant and animal, and human life and death. He also entered into the working out of people’s soul-deep relationships with God. However, He was still only one person who interfaced with the world in the locale where He was at any given time. After Christ rose from death, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell with us so that His presence in all places and at all times would provide followers of Christ with the same knowledge, wisdom, courage, and loving heart of grace and mercy as Jesus had provided during His years on earth. It is this presence of the Spirit of Christ that brought the apostles the great power that they exhibited in the manner and the diligence with which they testified to the risen Lord. It is also the Spirit who imparted the grace that infused all of their being.

 

As we walk through our days in a world that seems to be shouting out in anger and distrust and where violence is all too common, we are entering into those streets of turmoil and struggle that these apostles of old traveled. When we are on this journey, the same Spirit of Christ who went with our spiritual ancestors accompanies us. So, there is nothing to fear. We can clearly and boldly state out testimony to the transformative work that the risen Christ does in our lives. We can hold out for the world to see the only hope for true peace in our personal lives and among peoples and nations that is found in Christ. As we live in full surrender to the cross of Christ and in the power of His living Spirit, we are granted the infinite grace of God’s unending love so that we, too, can be people who extend grace and love to all as our response to the world’s seething hatred.

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