Persecute & Perish

The third in my series of ‘Peter Posts’ focuses on the persecution of the early Christian Church in the Book of Acts. Being a Christian back then was a high risk occupation. Jesus had been crucified and then his body had ‘disappeared’ from the tomb. Crazy rumours were spreading like wildfire around Palestine that he had risen from the dead and would return to overthrow the Roman occupation. Jerusalem was a tinder box of emotions and it would only have taken the slightest spark to throw the city into open rebellion.

The local religious leaders needed to reaffirm their authority. The crucifixion of the rabbi who claimed he was the son of God had backfired spectacularly. Thousands were flocking to the teachings of Jesus under the leadership of Peter (the Galilean fisherman formerly known as Simon) and his rag bag collection of disciples. Someone had to be made an example of and that someone was my namesake Stephen who was brutally stoned to death after eloquently and passionately professing his faith before the religious leaders of the Sanhedrin.

Before this Peter had also experienced a taste of the ruthless persecution of the early church which was to follow. In Acts 4 John and him were brought before the Sandhedrin and warned to keep their mouths shut and desist from preaching in Jerusalem. In the following chapter they were again warned about their conduct whereupon Peter replied:

We must obey our God rather than human beings. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead – whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. (Acts 5 29-30)

Blimey! How to win friends and influence people. Probably not the wisest thing to come out with to a group of religious zealots looking for an excuse to kill you. It was only the intervention of a Pharisee named Gamiel which saved his neck. Peter, the same Peter who denied he knew Jesus three times the night before the crucifixion and then skulked off weeping bitterly, was now putting his life on the line to publicly declare that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, the Son of God as prophesied throughout the Old Testament. This was incredible, revolutionary talk. Delivered with style and passion by a man who spent most of the Gospels with his foot well and truly wedged in his mouth.

Here was a man who had been transformed, who was on fire. The Holy Spirit was roaring through his veins and he could not be silenced, no matter what persecution he faced. And do you know why? Because he was no longer afraid. In his darkest days between the death of Jesus and the resurrection he must have beaten himself up, his weaknesses and flaws horribly exposed for all to see. He was a coward, a failure and a fraud. Would we have been surprised if he had fled to the hills never to be seen again? Or chosen a more permanent exit like Judas after his ultimate betrayal?

Yet he didn’t. He came back a changed man, a better man. Yes he was forgiven by Jesus but he also chose to forgive himself and make amends. He faced decades of persecution by choosing not to persecute himself over his past. He chose to move on, to move forwards and become one of the most influential figures in the history of civilisation. The Bible is full of such stories; of people who messed up but were used by God for great things. Because they chose to suck it up and make a fresh start.

Have you messed up? Do you beat yourself up day after, month after month, year after year over it? I would encourage you to take a leaf out of Peter’s book. Forgive yourself. It’s not easy (believe me I know) but it is possible. Peter faced enough external persecution in his life without having to deal with the internal variety as well. Don’t listen to the internal voice trying to drown out your hopes and dreams. Fight for your future because nobody else will for you.

In order to conquer your world you must first conquer your fears. Peter did. And so can you. Today. Now.

Have you persecuted yourself in the past? Are you still your own worst enemy? Pleas comment below and share your experiences with our community.

23 thoughts on “Persecute & Perish

Add yours

  1. My pastor this morning spoke about Jesus and his Wilderness experience. When he came out of the wilderness he came preaching with power. Perhaps that time between the crucifixion and the upperroom experience repeaters Wilderness time. Because he sure did come out with power.

    Be blessed

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Love it, thanks for sharing.

    There is nothing like having the Gospel and stories like this repeated, its very encouraging. I reckon I spent years “persecuting” myself and sabotaging my relationships because of it. Great to be free from that stuff.

    What’s even better than forgiving yourself is the knowledge of Romans 6:1-14. A new life, which means the old stuff was left buried.

    Thanks again.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Absolutely, I’ve always marveled at Peter whose journey we get to see most clearly of all the disciples. He may know the right answer to say or be the loudest guy in the room at given moment so becoming the spokesmen when the other disciples didn’t want to answer, then he turns coward on the night Christ needs him most but after all of that Peter really does become the rock on which the church is built! It really does show us that God can change anything and anyone for the better, He can use anyone and any set of circumstances to do wonderful and powerful things 🙂 🙂 🙂 thanks for sharing this perspective!

    Like

  4. I am still currently persecuting myself. I do on a daily basis. My name is Matt i am battling the demon which has manifested itself as Anorexia. I restrict my food, i go hours and hours on end without food. I am obsessed with calories, i will not eat carbs, i will no eat anything that i over 200 calories. It started with me trying to get into shape. Not that i was fat to begin with. I let a group of people i thought were my friends down, i always felt i was an outsider looking in and tried my best to fit in it sadly backfired and have punishing myself ever since. I still seek acceptance from them as i have no friends in my life. I live my life for a job that has me working all hours and keeps me from seeing my daughter. The anorexic voice has complete control over me. The route i am going down is self destructive, no matter how hard i try to sort myself out “the voice” is relentless and loud and does not give me a moments peace. I want to cry and scream and shout every day but i cannot do it. I just cannot open up truly show my feelings. I do not want to show i am weak this will be a failure in my eyes. I am truly my own worst enemy and it is slowly killing me………………………..

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: