There was a playful story we used to recite as children that required the listeners to respond, “Oh, that’s bad.” That comment would be immediately refuted as the story continued in a positive direction, evoking the comment, “Oh, that’s good,” to which the speaker would respond, “No, that’s bad,” as the story took a downward turn. After much back and forth, it would eventually have an unlikely ending where all involved would laugh.
Reading the account of the Apostles’ early ministry, it seems they experienced the same wide swings. The Apostles and all the believers met together at Solomon’s colonnade. “Oh, that’s good.” No, that’s bad: the High priest and members of the Sadducees were filled with jealousy and arrested them, putting them in public jail. “Oh, that’s bad.” No, that’s good: an angel of the Lord opened the doors and told them to stand in the temple courts and tell the people of new life in Christ. “Oh, that’s good.” No, that’s bad: the Captain of the Guard brought the Apostles before the Sanhedrin and the high priest who were furious and wanted to put them to death. “Oh, that’s bad.” No, that’s good: Gamaliel, a Pharisee, proposed that if the cause was not of God, it would fail; and if it was, it could not be stopped. “Oh, that’s good.” No, that’s bad: the Apostles ended up getting flogged. “Oh, that’s bad.” No, that’s good: the Apostles rejoiced in being counted worthy of suffering for the sake of Christ, and their ministry grew. (Acts 5:12-42)
If the story had stopped anywhere along the way, everyone would have had a totally incorrect idea of what was going on. Yet, this is the way we live our lives – wrapped up in the circumstances and immediacy of the moment because we don’t know what is coming next. Accordingly, we are either stressed to the max, or sailing along with no cares. Since neither is correct, we’re invariably taken by surprise when the swing comes, especially when we have expectations for particular outcomes. So, how does anyone maintain equilibrium?
Taking a lesson from these early Christians, there are several things that immediately stand out.
- They were sold out to speak the life-saving truth of Jesus’ death for the benefit of all people. The reality of their personal experience with Jesus was so astounding and overwhelming that they could not contain it, but HAD to share what they knew.
- They were fearless. Heaven and eternity were so real to them, that their physical realities paled in comparison. The threat of bodily harm and death only left them with what they considered the better option of being reunited with Jesus forever.
- They trusted Jesus completely and unequivocally. They understood Jesus was in charge – He literally had the whole world in His hands. Whatever they were able to do was because Jesus had opened the door and provided the way. Therefore, He knew every situation inside out, He had a plan, and He was always working His plan regardless of the way the situation presented itself. Jesus got them into it – He would get them out…or not. All that mattered was that His purpose would be accomplished.
The Apostles knew the truth of Jesus’ Person and Character, because they personally knew Him. No one could take that away. The good news is that Jesus wants us to know Him with that same intimacy. He has given us the Holy Spirit for the communion and communication that intimate friendship requires. Through His Word we learn His Character and He exposes His heart. His very purposeful creation design for us as physical and spiritual beings was that we would only be complete when His Spirit connects with ours.
“Oh, this is so good!” No, it’s bad: I don’t know how to get there. “Oh, that’s bad.” No, it’s good: God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)
Lord, please help me to keep my eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Jesus, You are eternal and You ARE Love, so fill me with Your Love, because perfect Love overcomes all fear. That same Love enables me to trust in You with ALL my heart. Lord, don’t allow me to lean on my own understanding or human wisdom, but, in ALL my ways, let me acknowledge You, so that You alone will direct my steps – all that I do, all that I say, all that I am. (2 Cor 4:18, 1 John 4:8,18, Prov 3:5-6)