Jesus Creed

ApPeter.jpgMissional communities are apostolically-shaped communities where the wonders of God are seen but where the wonders of God sometimes provoke persecution of the people of God. Here is Acts 5:17-26:

Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.”

At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin–the full assembly of the elders of Israel–and sent to the jail for the apostles.22But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this.  Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

There’s persecution of the apostles; there’s also a wondrous release from prison; there’s discovery by the persecutors that they’ve been had. The released apostles are to witness to the full message of this life, here again emphasizing a gospel that worked itself out through the resurrection. It is telling that this is the way the gospel is declared in the Temple, a place run by the Sadducees who do not believe in the resurrection. Again, see Beverly Gaventa’s The Acts of the Apostles (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries).
The message of life threatens some in powerful places. Those who proclaim this message are not always in positions of power, and as such the powers that exist are threatened by the gospeling power of the insignificant ones empowered by God to preach and to declare God’s wonders. The apostles are in God’s hands and protected by God’s hands. A piece of theology very important in missional theology.
There is a nearly pitiful irony in this: those in power are outdone by the power of God; those who deny resurrection are challenged by those who do; those who control sacred space can’t control the space where God seeks to work.
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