What makes a Christian stand out in the world? Sometimes it’s what we say or do – or what we don’t say or do. Jesus said the world will know that we are Christians by our love (Jn 13:34-35). Martyrs – past and present – show it through their uncompromising faith in the face of persecution. Peter and John showed it by their courage. Please take a moment and read Acts 4:13-22.
When the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin for healing a crippled man in the name of Jesus (Acts 3), they did not back down, but stood their ground and spoke His name all the bolder (4:1-12). The ruling council could not sweep them or their message under the rug. Luke wrote: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and took note that these men had been with Jesus” (v. 13). I think about this verse every time I stay up late pounding out another paper for a seminary class.
They could not deny what had happened. The proof of the power of Jesus’ name stood before them on healthy, strong legs. Still, they were compelled to “stop this thing from spreading any further among the people” (v. 17), so they “commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (18).
But Peter and John were not intimidated – nor silenced. They replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard” (v. 20). When you have experienced the miraculous you have to talk about it. When your life has been changed radically from the inside out, you cannot keep silent. The result of such godly courage and boldness is always praise to God (v. 21).
The truth is lots of book-learnin’ doesn’t make you a powerful witness for Christ. But being with Jesus does. The people who spend time in the Word and prayer and just sitting at His feet speak from a wealth of experience that can’t be taught. Academic degrees won’t change the world, but a heart filled with Jesus will. Beloved, you don’t have to “wax elephants” to make an impact for Christ. Just tell people what – and Who – you know. Tell them, “I’ve been with Jesus, and He changed everything.” Then let His praises ring.