The song is “Your love is like an ocean”. I see and imagine myself in the middle of the ocean – surrounded on all sides – as far as the eye can see – the light reflecting in multiple colours on the waves, dancing and twinkling – beckoning me – encouraging me – God’s love – immeasurably immense, totally engulfing me. Then the Lord speaks: “My love is so much more – it is warm, it embraces you on all sides – feel my love, feel my heart-beat – I am for you – yes I am for you – the Creator of the universe, I am for you – who can be – who can stand against you? – So even in trials when you feel opposition – it is only because I have allowed it – for your benefit – Just remember as you experience My love – you are also experiencing an impervious shield, on the one hand totally unyielding to the outside and on the other soft, yielding, embracing, warming, encouraging – filling you with My presence on the inside”.
I have reached Ch 4 in Acts as the “witness” spreads in Jerusalem, firstly among the priests (Acts 6:7), that is the ordinary priests not the Chief Priest and his gang. Today I am reading Acts 4:23-31 This passage follows the healing of the beggar and the speech before the Sanhedran, who, after jailing them, are forced to release the disciples, because of their popularity with the crowd and the very evidence of the healed beggar, present among them. Almost hidden in the script is the remark: “..and they took note that they (the disciples) had been with Jesus”. (vs 13 b) I wonder when outsiders have to do with me, or with any of us, if they will be led to make a similar remark. That’s witness.
Today’s reading concentrates on the report back of the disciples and their prayer meeting which follows.. Firstly they focus on Psalm 2. The question is “why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain?” so I go and dig in Psalm 2. The question is rhetorical, it seems The psalm is clearly pointing to to the coming of the “Anointed One” and the general attitude of the people of the world towards Him. They seem to perceive that He has them chained and they desire to break the chains – breaking contact with Him. Yet God laughs at them and their efforts and warns of His wrath – if they don’t turn to Him and serve Him – “Kiss the Son”. What a beautiful picture of love, acceptance and service.
So the conspiracy of Herod and crew vs 27, is a reflection of this ancient world-view, which looked ahead so prophetically. Yet and this is the main point – vs 28 “they were only doing what God’s power and will had decided beforehand should happen”. Mmmmm.
So as the prayer group continues, their prayer is that God would give them the words and enable them to speak the word boldly ie Witness effectively as the opportunity arose. I love the closing vs as it describes the joy and the reality of the presence of the Holy Spirit filling them and shaking the place. I have sometimes longed to feel the place shake as we have prayed, yet there was a huge task ahead of them with much hardship and the temptation to turn back, which has never faced me or any group I have been part of, so they needed and deserved the extra assurance given so vividly.
So what does God mean when He has shown me the extent of His mighty love for me and now a reminder of the difficulties and opposition of the world? Well one thing is clear from the passage, the way ahead may not be known by me but it is mapped out by God and His promise is that nothing will happen to me outside of what He allows. But there is one incontrovertible fact and that is that the world is still in opposition to Jesus. Not to religion, not to static churches nor to lazy uncommitted “Christians”, but to the witness of Jesus and who He is and what He has done for us. And I am called and so are each one of you called to continue the witness to Jesus in the world. I can only do that as I continue to “be with Jesus” on a daily basis so that I reflect Him and His love.
As I soak all this in I am taken again by the mighty responsibility of being a true witness and yet the huge encouragement of the huge and warm love of My Creator.