by Bobby Jackson
As corny as it might sound, I wrote my high school term paper on Acts 4. Ten pages seemed like an amazing amount at that point and I wanted to write about something that could keep my interest. I chose the subject of authority, responsibility, and jurisdiction. Authority is tricky in this text. We are taught to respect authority, submit to authority, to honor those in authority. So how does all of that coincide with the apex of this chapter?
18Then they (the Sanhedrin) called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
When do we listen to and obey “those that rule over us” and when do we purposefully go the other way? Is there a time when leaders in the church do not have to be followed? Should not be followed?
Admittedly I was more looking for a loophole so that I didn’t have to listen to some of the authorities in my life, but I stumbled onto a good Scriptural concept: we are not called to be drones that merely go along with whatever the perceived authority calls us to, but we have to follow Christ above everything else (but we must disobey authorities lovingly… see Romans 13). Peter and John were with Jesus and had an unusual courage. I pray that I can stand up for what is right and have courage that others might recognize that I have been “with Jesus.”