“Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than humans!” (Acts 5:29 CEB)
I wonder what the Sanhedrin, the Council put in charge of Religious/Political Matters in 1st Century Jerusalem by the Romans, though when Peter said these words to them. They were probably hoping they would quiet this little group of Jesus followers with scare tactics and the threat of more jail time (though they know it didn’t work with Jesus). But when they heard those words, “We must obey God rather than humans!” they must have thought “Yes! I agree! We are obeying God!”
I’m sure they did believe they were obeying God by stomping out this little insurrection. They were obeying God by trying to stop these Jesus followers from raising too much ruckus and bringing the Roman army down upon everyone. They were obeying God by preventing a false teaching of their religion from being thrust upon unsuspecting persons who don’t know any better. This council would probably have agreed with Peter and the apostles: yes, one needs to obey God rather than humans. The problem was who was right in their obedience?
The answer is obvious for us today, but this question got me thinking. There is a lot of talk today surrounding this subject: obeying God rather than humans. I can think of examples for both of what some term the political Left and Right. There are certainly supporters of the Black Lives Movement which believe they are obeying the will of God and God’s justice by protesting what they view as a system which oppresses people of color and other minorities. Then I remember Kim Davis, the Kentucky County Clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court because, in her mind, homosexuality was against God’s Will. Both believe they are obeying God’s Will.
For Peter and the Apostles though, they were speaking about something very specific in this instance. God called them to preach in the temple about the new life Christ offers. To obey God’s Will, they went into the temple, put themselves in harms way, and preached about the Grace and Love of Christ who offers new life and forgiveness.
I think this is a good standard for us to follow in whatever we do. Faced with decisions of life, we should follow Peter and the Apostles’ lead: obeying God’s Will means doing the thing which advances the Good News of Jesus’ Grace and Love. If that means going against some cultural norms, so be it. If that means hanging out with people you don’t look, act, or think like you, so be it. At least if we act as a people of forgiveness and new life, we’re probably on the right track.
Thanks be to God.