“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man that had been healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.” (Acts 4:13-14)
The greatest obstacle to growth in spiritual life is fear; fear of people, fear of authority, and fear of enemies. Ironically, the only reason we fear people is that we do not fear God. We are frightened at what people can do because we take God for granted! The Bible says: “The Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom.” (Job 28:28, Psalm 111:10, Proverbs 1:7 & Proverbs 9:10) Each time we disobey God for fear of what our fellow human beings can do to us, we act foolishly; we behave as if God is not capable of fighting for us.
Think about the times you had to consent to evil because you felt threatened by a fellow human being. Think about the times you gave in to sin because you just wanted to blend with peers or because you wanted to be accepted and praised by others. When the authorities told Peter and John never to speak again in the name of Jesus, they asked a very important question: “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).
Peter and the other disciples had already received a mandate from the Risen Jesus to go to the ends of the earth to preach as we read in our Gospel passage today. This was why they could say: “We cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” It is my prayer for you that you will reach a point in your walk with Christ when you are no longer afraid of people; a point where you are prepared to face the furnace, like Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or like Peter and John who were bold enough to accuse the religious leaders of killing Jesus.
Christianity today is under serious attack, this time not from strangers to the faith but from fully professed Christians who are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They make Christianity look like a scam and give the worst possible representation of Christ. Social media is agog daily with all the recklessness and crimes committed in the name of “Church.”
As much as we continue to de-market these fraudsters, let us not forget that the real weapon against darkness is light. We must start letting our light shine by showing good examples. We must preach (as Jesus says in today’s Gospel passage) not just with words but with good deeds. The only hope left for Christianity in Africa today is the witness of God-fearing Christians living righteous lives.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, help me to overcome my fear of human beings. Give me the wisdom to totally resign myself to you as I work to advance your kingdom on earth. Amen.
Bible Study: Acts 4:13-21, Ps. 118:1,14-21, Mark 16:9-15
© Rev. Fr. Evaristus Abu