This is what the high and exalted One says — he who lives  forever and whose name is holy: “I live in a high and holy place, but also with the spirit of the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. Isaiah 57:15

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestor raised Jesus from the dead –whom you killed by hanging him on a cross.  God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witness of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God gave to those who obey him.” Acts 5:29-32

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.  Acts 4:13

In a recent conversation about God being high and lifted up as well as close and all around us, the words, eminence and immanence came up. When I don’t know a word, I head for a dictionary or, these days, I Google it. Frankly, I’m not sure I really get it, but the closest I came was from a 1912 dictionary that describes someone who is eminent as high and lofty and there is no one above them. Whereas, immanent means to remain in or near.

As I read about the attitude of the important people, including Annas and Caiaphas the high priests who had questioned Jesus before his crucifixion, and others high up in the religious community of Jerusalem, it’s not surprising that they would get concerned and ultimately jealous because of what was happening as the apostles taught the good news of Jesus to the the crowd in the temple. Especially as the signs and wonders that the Holy Spirit was performing through the apostles among the people were drawing more of them to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

It is also not surprising that they would get furious when confronted with the truth of their complicity in Jesus’ death, since they believed in worshiping God via an elaborate system of measurable rules that required intensive training. They resented the risk that would change things by the close relationship with Jesus and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

As I pondered- indeed, wrestled with- this portion of Acts, I realized how hard it is to take small bits of the riches of the written word of God and try to relate to a time when the people in the early church didn’t have it to refer to. The disciples at the time had to become attentive ”hearers of the Word” in order to become faithful “doers of the Word.”

In addition to reading the Bible, listening to the Bible is truly helpful. I have the You Version Holy Bible app, which has both visual and audio included for each of a variety of translations. Also, Audible and various other single translation versions are available online. Another practice may be reading the scriptures out loud alone or with someone. Try reading or listening to the Bible in a different way than you usually do this week and see how you receive the Word in a fresh way.

By Carolyn Schmitt

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