Let the world be the world…

 
As followers of Christ, indeed as his body, we should be doing things differently from those around us.  Instead of following the patterns laid out by the world around us, we should be laying down our own patterns and methods to be followed.  There was a time, when the church was very young, when Jesus’ church actually showed the faith to follow the patterns set by Him and not the world around it.
 
About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. James was one of Jesus’ “big three” disciples, along with Peter and John.  Those three were Jesus’ closest confidantes, the three Jesus would take with Him when He wanted to get some quiet time.  (Jesus  almost never worked or travelled alone).   He was a big prize for the anti Christian Jews of the time.  This King Herod simply wanted to be popular, and Peter was the next big prize to get if he wanted to keep his popularity up.  

This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.   So this was during the week after Passover, the Jews would not have wanted an execution during their Holy Week.   But we see what an important prisoner Peter was, he had 16 soldiers assigned specifically to him, that they might be able to hold him for execution after the week was over.

So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.   How about that??  No demonstrations, no protests, no bullhorns, no threats, no violence.   They prayed to God on behalf of Peter.  It doesn’t specify, but these were Christians, I’m sure they were praying in the name of Jesus.  It must have seemed silly to those around them, seriously.  Peter is being held for execution, and these people are praying for his release! What did they hope to accomplish by prayer?

Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison.   Think about this.  The night before his scheduled execution, Peter is sleeping like a baby.  No worries, no stress, no anxiety.  I’ve been kept up all night stressed over far less than my very life being taken from me.  

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.”    Not the first night of his incarceration, or the second, or the third.  God waited for His own time to answer these prayers.  The church stayed faithful in their prayers, God heard them, God listened.  
Peter, sleeping soundly, had to be smacked by the angel to wake up!   Get up and get dressed!!

And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”  Peter thinks he is still asleep.  But the Angel of the Lord is delivering him from the evil that was coming his way.  The church was very young at this point.  Would it have survived if Peter had been taken at this point?  Maybe, but maybe not.  He was a new leader of new believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul had been converted, but was not yet ready to be used.    We know the Jewish leaders would have loved to eradicate the church, and that’s just what they were trying to do by going after Jesus “main men.”  The church was still young then.  Lucky for Peter there was no TV or social media at the time.  The believers probably would have grown bored after about 5 minutes of pretending to pray while checking their phones, then would have given up the prayer altogether to look at Facebook.  They would have organized a protest, petitioned the king, maybe used a few choice words when talking about him.  Peter would have remained in jail.  Our protests might have grown more intense, we would accuse the Jews of whatever we could think to accuse them of.  They would have outnumbered us, and majority rules, right?  One man, one vote!  The mob would have gotten it’s way, Peter would have been executed.  
But Peter didn’t live in our time, he lived in his.  His church stayed faithful in their prayers.  God delivered Peter, and probably the church as a whole.  Peter would ultimately be martyred, but obviously at a point when God saw fit, not Herod.  God used Peter after this to grow His church, He ultimately used Peter’s death for His own glory.  

Peter lived in his time, we live in ours.  Today instead of creating the pattern, we follow the patterns of the world.  We protest, fight, campaign, throw mud.  We want to beat the world at being the world.  We forget what Paul told the Corinthians 2000 years ago – “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭10:3-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  We know we are in a battle, a spiritual war.   But we should not be fighting that war using the same patterns and strategies as the world around us.  Instead, we should be using the weapons our commander in chief has given us – “…the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication…” Ephesians‬ ‭6:17-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬.  Praying.  Just as the church prayed for Peter under King Herod.   Using the helmet of salvation and sword of the spirit, acting as if we knew Jesus Christ as our Lord and savior.   In other words, be the church even when we are under attack.  Let the world be the world.




 

“About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.””
‭‭Acts‬ ‭12:1-11‬ ‭ESV‬‬
http://bible.com/59/act.12.1-11.esv

John Lewis

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One thought on “Let the world be the world…

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