If you say you believe in God, most people won’t throw a fit. Some might walk away thinking you’re delusional, but the great majority of people will “respect your beliefs,” as long as you don’t talk about it anymore.
However, bringing up Jesus usually causes serious problems. If you get lucky, you’ll evoke a positive response from a fellow Christian, but most people will get rather uncomfortable. The reasons are fairly obvious: Jesus demands devotion to one God, proclaims He is that God, propagates Himself as the only means of salvation, and requires His followers to repent. Jesus makes people uncomfortable; they like to stay the way they are.
Other religions “respect” Jesus much the same, but that’s only if they hack off inconvenient parts or alter what He says. If someone proclaims that they believe Jesus is a good teacher or a prophet, they miss key elements of who He is. They diminish His significance, and most importantly, His deity.
Peter and John have it rough in Acts 4. Instead of a mere verbal assault, they get thrown in jail. But this doesn’t stop them. They continue to talk about Jesus, even if people find their message offensive or absurd.
Greatly disturbed (v. 2)
The local authorities are not happy with the apostles’ rhetoric. Because a theocracy is in place, Peter and John get tossed in jail on a technicality. Even if a clean gospel is presented, people might blow you off because of a contrived detail. But don’t let that deter you; it only means you’re doing it right.
The only means (v. 12)
What if Jesus IS the only way? After an overnight jail stay, Peter brings up this controversial truth:
…Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
If Jesus wasn’t presented to me as the only means of making it to heaven, I may not have ever considered Christianity. Don’t let resistance ever keep you from presenting Jesus. It might be the last push someone needs.
Severely threatened (v. 17-18)
I stated in my last blog that you don’t have to have a theology degree to earnestly love God and preach Jesus. This troubles many; a thinking man will demand proof (and still reject Him, no matter how compelling it is). I haven’t seen anyone threaten death to those who speak of Jesus in this country, but it still happens worldwide. But people here are threatened by Him nonetheless.
Can’t shut up (v. 20)
However, if you’re looking for proof that the Holy Spirit dwells within the believer, and that Jesus truly is who He says He is, take a look at this:
But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
These fishermen, Judaism school rejects, insist on talking about Jesus in public, defying authorities and facing potential death sentences. This realization should push Christians to be more proactive about their presentation of the gospel because this story makes a lot of us look like wusses, and it should make skeptics itch a little bit because humans don’t do this unless they’re absolutely convinced of something.
Until the day of His return, Jesus will stand as one of the most controversial figures in human history. But we, as His ambassadors, should never relent to stand for Him, to speak about Him, and to live for Him, no matter what the cost. People will hear it, and it will unquestionably change their lives forever.