READ: Acts 5:12-42
THINK: How do most people today view Christians and the Church? Often, it may not be in a favorable light. Of course, even if Christians do everything right in their conduct toward others, Jesus said that the world at large would still reject them. Still, one has to wonder if our churches could and should be more influential in society. Ironically, Christians probably lose a lot of their influence because they worry too much about relating to the world and what people think. In the process, churches trade God’s power for people’s perceptions.
RESPOND: Do you think that Christians today are “highly regarded by the people” (v. 13) as they were in the early days of the New Testament church? Why or why not? Can believers ever have this kind of favor with people in today’s culture, and if so, how? Why don’t we seem to experience the number of healings as they did in the early church? (See 5:15-16 note.) What’s “the full message of this new life” (v. 20) that the apostles were to tell people? (See 5:20 note.) How can following people keep you from obeying God? (See 5:29 note.) What are some examples of how people’s desires, ideals and authority conflict with God’s desires, commands and authority? To whom does God give the Holy Spirit, and what does the Spirit help them do? (See 5:32 note.) In what way do people today oppose believers and end up fighting against God? How does the apostles’ attitude (vv. 40-41) challenge and inspire you?
PRAY: Ask God to give you the wisdom, determination and power to always obey Him, regardless of what people want from you or how they pressure you. Pray that you will count it a privilege to suffer shame for the cause of Christ.
ACT: Make a deliberate choice and effort to live in a way that will earn respect and be well-regarded by others. This doesn’t mean trying to get attention or approval from people, but rather, behaving in ways that make it difficult for people to find fault with your speech, behavior and conduct toward others. By living this way, God will give you favor with the right people and help you bring honor to Him. If in any way you’re following people rather than obeying God, make an immediate change and do what God wants you to do, regardless of what others think or do.