Sunday, April 3, 2016

What would you do?

I asked that question this morning in the sermon at St. Paul's, Troy. In the epistle reading for today, in the 3 year lectionary, we faced that question. In Acts 5, the apostles are arrested again, much as they were in Acts 4. They were imprisoned, yes out of jealousy by the chief priests and the Sadducees, but also because of the preaching of the words of this Life, the words of resurrection, Jesus' resurrection. As you read in Acts 5, they were sent by the angel to proclaim the words of this Life in the Temple courts after they were miraculously released from prison.

I asked the question, What would you do? Would you go and tell of Jesus' life, death and resurrection? Or would you keep quiet because it might offend someone? Not saying anything because you didn't want to make waves, upset someone or get in trouble? A powerful question that we need to ask ourselves.

Then this afternoon, Penny and I went to see the movie "God's Not Dead 2." This movie addresses just that issue. What would you do? What would you do if when you are in the public arena, asked a question about Jesus, how would you answer? And if you answered by telling about Jesus and what Scripture says about Him, and then someone took offense, would you apologize for causing offense? Would you say you were sorry for speaking about Jesus? Would you then keep quiet and not say anything else?

Far-fetched? Not really. The Christian teacher in a public school faces that dilemma every day. When asked about Jesus, do you avoid saying anything for fear that the principal, Board of Education or the State is going to come down on you and you might just lose you job? Do you avoid answering the question at work when you coworker asks you about the joy you have in your life, a joy placed there by your faith in Christ Jesus? What would you do?

When you have family visiting that aren't Christian or don't practice the faith that they "might" be a part of, do you avoid praying before the meal for fear of offending them? When you have someone come over, do you skip church because you don't want them to be uncomfortable having you leave and go to church while they sit at home waiting for you to return? Do you even think of inviting them to attend worship with you?

The reading from Acts 5 and then the movie, all struck home with me. I asked myself, what do I do? If the state put out a subpoena for all the sermon I have preached over the last 3 months, to see if I said anything radical like, "homosexuality is a sin," or "same sex marriage is wrong," or something else that might be considered hateful or harmful to people in society, would I give them my sermon? Or would I tell the state "No, you can't come into the church and tell me what to preach"? In truth, I would them no, I will not give them my sermons for that is my freedom to preach in my church and they cannot tell me what I can or cannot say. Only my Lord can tell me that.

Very real things. Very difficult questions. Struggles that are being faced more and more in our country. What would you do? When the angel of the church says to you, "Go and speak the words of this Life," how do you respond?

I wrestle with that question. I struggle with the answer. Only through the power of Christ working in me, only as the Holy Spirit leads me, only as I am in the strength of God, can I give the right answer. I pray that I will always be able to say that. And I pray that you will too.

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