Transcending the Troubles

Does it sometimes feel as though, in your Christian journey, you take a few steps forward only to get buffeted by some trial or tribulation which seems to set you back? Do you ever struggle, thinking that maybe you’re not doing this right, that you shouldn’t have so many troubles now that you’re a Christian?

We’re going to be reading Acts 12:1-25 this Sunday in our ongoing study of the Ragamuffin Revolution, the book of Acts.

Luke has been developing this story along a regular beat – a rhythm of the gospel advancing and the gospel being opposed. We left chapter 11 on a high note of a new, gentile church who is maturing and demonstrating the values of God’s kingdom, only to walk into chapter 12 and find an increased and deadly persecution.

A mistake is made sometimes, when people give their lives to Christ. An assumption develops that things should go smoothly now, now that I’m on “God’s side”. There are some presentations of doctrine that actually seek to reinforce that idea; that God’s intent is to lead us into a trouble-free life of wealth and prosperity and if we have enough faith, God will grant it to us.

That’s a lovely notion…but counter to the Bible’s explicit statements and implicit narrative. It’s pretty clear that we never really knew we had troubles until we started following this Jesus. The early church experienced that. Trouble happens – it comes from kings and chains and iron gates – it comes in bills and doctor’s reports and a culture’s growing hostility.

What is our response to this? Fatalism? Shrug and say “oh well, everything is awful and there’s nothing we can do about it.”? What did the church in Jerusalem do when Peter was put in prison? What do you think they were praying for, given their reaction at the end of the story? How do you think prayer affects things? Do you find yourself viewing prayer as a first response or a last resort?

Herod had James executed for being faithful to God. How does this end for Herod? Who has the last word (v24)? What does that tell us about the troubles of this fallen world? How can we be encouraged to transcend our troubles from this account in Acts 12?

Hope to see you Sunday!

*by the way – Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, also records the death of Herod: Antiquities 19.8.2 343-361  – it’s an interesting parallel to the Biblical narrative.

One comment

  1. I love the churches response to Pete’s imprisonment, praying earnestly! How funny and typical is it for those earnest pray-ers to be shocked even almost offended at the suggestion that Pete might be at the door. Maybe they had been praying his life would be spared not imagining, and who would, the extravagance of rescue God would pull off. Eph 3:20 reminds God can do FAR more than our little finite minds can construe!! What an awesome reminder for us about prayer…After we pray we need to approach life with eyes wide open expecting His activity, open to unanticipated outcomes and thankful that He is not limited to our unenlightened imaginations!!!
    Herod’s execution of James didn’t stop the growth of the Kingdom…God always has the last word….So whether our God calls us to martyrdom or the miraculous the end result will be the same, God’s Kingdom increases…..the fact that people were being killed and tortured only gave weight to the fact that there was something HUGE going on, an invasion the powers that were saw worth squelching..Herod’s fate forshadowed the end of all who will oppose the TRUE King and God!! Our God will not put up with those who torment us forever. Temporary battles may be lost but the war is in the bag!!!

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