Why Not Both/And?

“And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”  And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29-31)

The Apostles were shaken and stirred – shaken by the heavenly Father’s explosive response to their prayer and stirred by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Good News of the Son of God.

Notice that they gathered in prayer because of the threats from those who wanted them cancelled. But unlike so many of us on social media, they didn’t just whine about an anti-church culture, and they didn’t mock their detractors.

Instead, the church asked for boldness to keep speaking God’s word, and asked the Father to stretch out a hand to heal and give signs and wonders in Jesus’ name.

There is an implicit prayer to frustrate the haters’ threats, but there is no call to afflict or destroy the church’s enemies. These first followers of Christ and his Apostles asked to be shaken and stirred so that friend and foe alike would hear the word of God, receive healing and experience signs and wonders proclaiming the truth that Jesus Christ lives and gives new life.

Yes, we ask God to look upon the threats that intimidate and hinder us. But we do so to beg for boldness in greater measure to continue our witness to the risen Christ.

May our gatherings be shaken by the Father’s glorious presence and our hearts stirred by the Holy Spirit, so that Jesus will call, heal and transform even those who despise us.

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