Between 'The Rock' and a Hard Place

“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:29

Keep Jesus between you and everything else is the advice I most often give and seek to abide by in my own life. I read with interest a great quote yesterday from one of my favorite teaching pastors who said, “A Christian should be a good citizen until being a good citizen means being a bad Christian.” Immediately the words of Peter in Acts chapter 5 came to mind. Living the Christian life in an increasingly anti-christian world is difficult at best. Believers are faced with difficult choices each day in navigating this worlds systems. Do we choose the lonely path of commitment to God or do we go down the well worn path of compromise? (See Matthew 7:14) I read a quote the other day that answers that question for the committed follower of Christ. It said, “I would rather be a friend of God and an enemy of the world than to be friends with the world and an enemy of God.” As you can tell there is no middle ground. It’s one side or the other.

It may appear to be more profitable in the short run to fit in with the crowd, to walk the path of least resistance and go with the flow so to speak but the price you will pay in the long run is more than any of us can afford. After all, it was Jesus who said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

The apostle Paul reminded his young protege Timothy, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12). And the apostle would know as he testified of his own life in 2 Corinthians 11:23-28, “Are they ministers of Christ?--I speak as a fool--I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness-- besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.
And yet, the paradox seems to be our responsibility to man while walking in obedience to God. The apostle Paul gives us clear instructions in Romans 13:1-5 on how we are to respond to those God has placed over us in this life. He wrote, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake.”

For me, I have found that the best way to be a good citizen and a good Christian at the same time is to filter everything you do in this life through God’s Word and prayer. Seek to love God and love people living in obedience to God’s Word, as when you do Jesus said we will fulfill all the law and the prophets. It’s no secret, many aspects of our society are a mess. Thats what happens when people don’t keep Jesus between them and everything else. The good news of the Gospel is we can bring God into every situation we face, every battle we encounter and every trial we must endure through prayer. Prayer doesn’t just work, prayer changes everything! Do you want to see change in your personal life, in your family, in your friends? How about in your church or in your city, and in this world? Pray, take everything to God in prayer! Pray without ceasing. Pray for me, I’m praying for you!

“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

1 Timothy 2:1-4


Michael Osthimer





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