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good morning friends I was having this crisis moment just stood there I was like did I turn it off when I was talking to people in the foyer and how do you tell without taking it all off and everything so we’re all good now good to go ready to preach we’re going to jump in quickly today part of the reason is I got told off for running over by about 15 minutes last service and then someone came to me and said not only did you run over in the first service you ran over in the second service as well and I said what’s the same sermon what you expect like and then apparently uh there was a belief I could change as I went which I I think is beyond me so usually I like to get us started with a little anecdote and stuff make sure if you’re new you can track with the accent we don’t have time for that today although bizarrely I’m telling you an anecdote about not telling anecdotes which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever I’m just wasting time we’re going to jump in on chapter four we’re in this book acts that that we call

acts of the apostles we call acts of the earliest followers of Jesus and yet one of the things we’ve talked about is is it really them I mean yes they are people that God is using and and the historian that wrote this book luke he takes very seriously the idea that the things he is reporting are facts they may be hard to believe facts at times but he takes them as facts that we can trust in so really what we’re looking at is it’s acts of father son and holy spirit this guard that we’re presented with in the passages of scripture as they choose to partner with humanity this is this moment where God is now working in the world in a different way but the wrestling point for us as 21st century followers of Jesus is this should we copy them or learn from them another way we might say it is is what they’re doing prescription or is it just description another way of saying that yet again is is this church juvenile is it just learning or is it supposed to be an

example to all of us and and the answer might be yes and no at the same time there might be some things that we see them do and say absolutely we should copy them I would suggest that today is one of those passages there’s other times where we might read them and say we can clearly see that they’re figuring this out as they go because while they start with one practice they may change it some pages later and we see a group of people learning what it is to follow Jesus in their space and time good news just like you and I are doing today we live in a world that’s challenging and figuring out what living like Jesus looks like will always be a difficult thing to do so this is where we got to last week this is the miraculous supernatural event that luke presents as factual that we left off with last week taking him by the right hand he helped him up and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong he jumped to his feet and began to

walk then he went with them into the temple courts walking and jumping and praising God the language there is like an athlete that springs up from the ground onto a high service service it is explosive it is spectacular now just to give you some perspective on just how spectacular jewish people of this time had almost two categories of miracle it was one thing to heal the eyes of someone who had become blind it was another thing to heal the eyes of someone who had been born blind it was one thing to heal the legs of someone who had become lame it was a different thing altogether to heal the legs of someone who had been born lame for whatever reason they considered the one easier to do than the other so you see this moment where this event is truly spectac spectacular I’ve coded these guys in every time I say the word spectacular the lights will go off and on didn’t work that time spectac no I lost it it was magic for a moment

so this is the event that we see take place and now we move into chapter four and to help us navigate chapter four I kind of broke it down into some scenes for you because we’re going to spend most of our time towards the end of chapter four scene one john and peter these two followers of Jesus that God has used will be arrested scene two there’ll be a trial scene three there’ll be a judgment the john and john and peter will be removed from the scene and these religious leaders will make some kind of judgment on them fourth I’m kind of giving away the ending here if you don’t know it they’ll be released and then five we get to see their response we’re gonna wrestle with some questions today and we’re gonna talk about two kind of emotive subjects we’re gonna talk about power and how we deal with it and we’re gonna talk about forgiveness and how we deal with it we’re going to watch two groups of people some

older religious leaders that have been in power for a long time and then this new group of Jesus followers that increasingly will be called the way or christians or something like that and I’m going to ask you which of these groups do you see represent the church that you know and I’m talking about the church with the big c the church worldwide and which of these two groups do you see represent yourself the best because we all wrestle with power and we all wrestle with forgiveness and so we’re going to push ourselves a little bit but first we just read about a supernatural supernatural event let me ask you this how do you respond to something spectacular something unusual something that grabs your attention are you a person that believes easily do you buy in easily to it do you respond well are you a person that’s skeptical how do you respond to something like this maybe you’re a person like many people today

where you just film it that’s just your first automatic step I was at a wedding yesterday and there were two people in their 70s or 80s both filming the wedding and watching it on their phones I was like wow you are trend-setting octogenarians that’s an impressive impressive thing to be um sometimes we just that’s our response to the supernatural I’ve got to get it on camera and then we get to be the first people to upload it the other day facebook was down for however long and I just sensed this sort of moment where hundreds maybe thousands of people are waiting for facebook to come back up so they can be the first people to comment on the fact that it was down just to be like you know just in case you missed it people I saw this and you may have missed it there’s this sort of question of what do we do when we see something unusual this is a story about mickey wright an australian surfer on vacation in hawaii

and he saw a woman caught in these big waves potentially drowning so he used the bodily strength that God has given him and he swam out rescued her polder back in and sat with her on the shore as people gathered round to see this not supernatural but spectacular moment where a man had rescued performed a service for somebody else what does he expect in that moment he might expect to be thanked he might expect to be praised he probably doesn’t expect to be dragged off and arrested for what he did and yet this is what we’re going to see happen in this story with john and peter we’re going to see two people through God do a service for someone change completely the quality of someone’s life and yet in this moment they’re going to be arrested for what they have done so let’s enter into acts chapter 4 the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the sadducees came up to peter and john while

they were speaking to the people they were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead are these pharisees these leaders these sadducees as they’re described in different ways these priests this captain of the temple guard are they interested in the fact that a miracle has taken place are they interested in the supernatural part of this story at all no they are entirely focused on the fact that something may be happening here that they are uncomfortable with for those of you familiar with the the gospel stories the biographies of Jesus life this is very similar to one of those stories this times where Jesus does something supernatural spectacular and the reaction is who told you to walk on the sabbath day or something like that it’s a similar piece of action now happening with his first followers they are deeply concerned that these people are teaching

people and especially that they’re talking about Jesus and his resurrection of the dead so they seized peter and john and because it was evening they put them in jail until the next day but many who heard the message believed so the number of men who believe grew to about five thousand there’s some tension in this passage because while peter and john have been arrested and dragged off for judgment the sort of a maybe an even an army starting to build if these people power or some kind of uprising they have this army in place just waiting to go 5 000 people ready to fight on your side is a significant number and this number is only going to get bigger so just hold that in your mind for a second there is a lot of people now starting to form themselves around these first followers of Jesus the next day the rulers and elders and the teachers of the law met in jerusalem and us the high priest was there and so was kurthus john

and alexander and others of the high priest’s family they had peter and john brought before them and began to question them by what power or what name did you do this so how this courtroom setting would take place is 70 or so jewish leaders would gather in a big semi-circle and the the people being questioned would be placed in the middle it was designed to be intimidating it was designed to be a position where you felt your own weakness and you asked question after question it’s a similar process that we saw Jesus go through and now as he predicted his followers are beginning to go through this as well and their question there is by what power or what name did you do this we are watching something take place that could be called disruption there is this moment where those that are in power or have been for a long time are beginning to feel the potential for a change and anyone who has power that loses it

without choice usually finds themselves very uncomfortable with that situation we are observing a disruption so I would like to help you understand what a disruption is just a little bit more if you are wearing eyeglasses I’d love you to take them off and see what name it says on the side of them anyone what have we got here who are we wearing these days we might have some gucci some ray-ban some yves saint laurent some just different brands uh and yet the truth is whatever name it says on your glasses the chances are they were all made by the luxetaki luxartica group they make around 80 of eyeglasses worldwide and they make a fortune doing it now they put on all the brands so you feel like you’re amazing making a choice but the reality is you’re not really making a choice this system has been set up to make these people lots of money by selling glasses with a brand on it this is what it is to have power these guys in

our analogy are the group of jewish leaders that have had power control of the the religious world of this area for a long long time so about five years or so ago this group this group of guys put together a business called warby parker warby parker only initially started online they do have now storefronts but what these guys did is this they they didn’t ask the question how much do eyeglasses cost they asked the question how much do the parts that make eyeglasses cost because if we figure out how much it is to make the frames if we figure out how much it is to make the lenses well we can figure out the cost and then we could sell it for a little bit more enough to make a profit but way way less than you would pay to get gucci or if salarant or something like that and your glasses this is this moment of disruption those that have power those that have sway suddenly potentially begin to lose it so to imagine yourself where these

jewish leaders are there is a fork developing in the road it could go one way or it could go the other way it could continue on the journey that it has been on for a long time where this group of people have power and control over who says what about religion in this place and space that they live in or it could fork massively and that if it does who knows where that ends up this is a map of the uk motorway system or highway system I used to live somewhere just up here I’m just educating you so you about my history now and and I would regularly drive this road called the m40 all the way down to london because I used to pick lots of people up from the airport and bring them back to spend time with my family so after doing this journey repeatedly over and over again I now had a journey where I had to head over to wales for those of you that don’t know maps or geography this is wales over here it’s not labeled but it’s there um you may

never visit and that’s fine you’re not missing much no it’s beautiful um so there’s this moment where I now have to take this journey down the m5 and the road splits and you can go one way or the other just because I’m on autopilot in this moment I head down the m40 instead of the m5 and I don’t realize where I am until somewhere about here now you guys over here you have these wonderfully straight roads that you can follow for mile after mile and they’re big and wide not every country has these things I’m just saying this is unusual for many parts of the world so I’m left with this moment of tension here do I just go back and and head all the way back up here and then take the right road or do I sort of make this loop around here and head off over here or do I just sort of cross country myself all the way across here driving down these tiny lanes that only fit one car and I don’t mean one car in both directions I mean one car just in

any direction you sometimes have to back up half a mile just to clear the road and I’m left with this anger and rage that I took the wrong journey and didn’t realize sooner this fork in the road that I hit I’m I’m well into the choice before I even realize it and these jewish leaders are in that process in that moment of what happens if we go down this journey if we allow these people to start talking about Jesus about resurrection about all of these different things where will it end up as the road splits they’re left with this question how do we stop this happening their question might be phrased who gave you permission for this kind of disruption because they know it wasn’t them and they’re used to being the gatekeepers they’re used to deciding who gets to say what and suddenly this now is questioned so a question for you and a question for eye what is the primary goal of this group of religious leaders these jewish leaders that have

held power sometimes as whole families for decade after decade century after century what is their primary goal here is it to know what really happened is it to ask is God behind these spectacular events we’re hearing about is it to ask is there a new story for our faith is it any of those things no they have one goal and one goal only they want to stay in power they want to keep the status quo they want this thing to stay as it was later as we’ll see in the text they’ll actually acknowledge we know this thing happened this is a real moment where something supernatural has happened and yet still they have no interest in trying to understand why their sole goal is power and isn’t that true for us at times as well if you think about how much the western church has become united with being in power and are longing to keep that in place if you think about how often pastors in churches have operated simply out of power for those of

you that like to listen to podcasts you may have heard podcasts like the rise and fall of mars hill you may have read books like the church called toe and we’re starting to see some of the outworkings of what it is for the church to operate on the world’s systems just so we can keep power power is addictive just just because I was interested and I’m just convinced that many of us as human beings just become addicted a little bit to power I just looked up how many presidents had resigned or or had said you know what after one term I’m kind of done I feel like I’ve done what I’ve felt called to do I feel like somebody else can carry this burden for a while I’ve achieved in four years what I felt was was possible for me and it’s pretty scarce three presidents in the last 150 years have said after one term I think I’ve done all that I can do and those three all of them had served one part of somebody else’s term so with the unspoken rule

that you don’t do more than eight years they would have crossed that eight years mark easily it seems that very easily we get into that mode of saying no I have to keep powering any time anything that comes up and says you’re gonna lose some of that power that can be a tension think about the way at times we work with our employees we are in charge we get to be the boss and so even in times where we know we could be wrong there can be this moment of saying no I’m I’m going to choose to operate in power with our kids grandkids that can be this moment I know secretly deep down I’m wrong but I’m gonna I’m gonna use the fact that you’re little and I’m big and I’m gonna make this decision I’m gonna force this thing through I would suggest that so many human beings struggle and wrestle with power and so many of the rest of us struggle with what it is to work with someone who is increasingly becoming obsessed with

power some of you now can identify a boss who is somewhat power obsessed who operates in that way and you’ve wrestled with how do I deal with this person I would suggest that so many people just struggle with what it is to have power and when we have to lose it or we choose to lose it that itself can be an identity crisis this is a quote from pete cesaro to true freedom comes when we no longer need to be somebody special in other people’s eyes sometimes the addiction or obsession with power is simply how it makes us feel around everybody else it gives us an identity that we get to celebrate power for this group of people it seems is a deep issue it is the only thing that they are now concerned with and so we watch how to how do peter and john engage with this group of religious leaders that are demanding that the status quo stays the status quo the next day the rulers and elders and the teachers of the law met in jerusalem

we already talked about this whole group there they had peter and john brought before them and began to question them by what power or what name did you do this because it isn’t our power and then peter filled with the holy spirit said to them rulers and elders of the people if we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and now being asked how he was healed then know this you and all the people of israel it is by the name of Jesus christ of nazareth whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead that this man stands before you healed the first response from peter and john is actually somewhat humorous it’s the same thing we were talking about with this surfer mickey right are you really arresting us for doing something good they actually use this word for a good work a thing usually rewarded there’s almost this question of like did you call us here to to thank us did you

call us here to celebrate the fact that we’ve done this for the this man it’s almost kind of pushing that ironic sort of level it reminds me because I have kids and I get to watch lots of pixar movies it kind of reminds me of this moment in the incredibles for those of you that are big pixar fans and and what I would say is we’ve watched these movies so many times that now our kids are getting sick of them and the adults are the one that once want to watch them apparently it’s just you can turn that corner eventually but there’s this moment or this storyline within the incredibles where when mr incredible ends up in a court case for saving someone trying to commit suicide and the man says no I didn’t want you to save me you you’ve done the wrong thing and he actually has to stop being a superhero because of this situation there’s almost this irony to it and it’s almost to play here like what what did I do that was so terrible

what did we do that was wrong we took a man that couldn’t walk and he couldn’t walk from birth the ultimate in spectacular and now he can what’s the problem why are you making such a big deal of this but if you want to know who it was well it wasn’t really us it was in the name of Jesus christ of nazareth whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead that this man stands before you healed peter goes beyond just saying it’s a bit absurd that you’re taking this thing that’s happened and making it sound like it’s something negative but but even more so the person that you killed the person that you crucified he’s actually responsible for all this as well he’s the one that is making this whole new thing possible Jesus is the stone you build as rejected which has become the cornerstone salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given by to mankind by which we must be saved peter and john

stand up in front of this group of religious leaders and give this articulate defense of what they have done and yet just like the miracle this isn’t really them either this is just another moment where Jesus has told them something or promised them something that seems almost unbelievable he’s told them that you would perform greater works than I have performed and they’re beginning to see it he’s told them that it is better that I go away because otherwise the spirit won’t come and and it’s now happened and now there’s this moment where he promised them that they will arrest you do not worry about what to say or how to say it at that time you will be given what to say for it will not be you speaking but the spirit of your father speaking through me in this moment it’s not them in this moment they are standing up to those that are in power and this spirit is speaking through them and there’s this beautiful moment where

these religious leaders will say when they realize the courage of peter and john and realize that they were unschooled ordinary men they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus is this the first time they realized that they were Jesus followers no they they knew that all along it’s just like this is the first moment that the dots were put together wait a second we said that Jesus was not schooled in the way that we were schooled and yet he taught in these spectacular ways and he did these spectacular things and and we thought we’d cut the head off the snake as it were but now it seems like multiple heads are growing back and it’s almost this moment where these people in power realize that they have a real problem on their hands that if these men are now equipped by some spirit to do the same things Jesus did and there are many of them or what does this world look like now what what changes take

place what are we going to do with these men they asked everyone living in jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign and we cannot deny it do you see the absurdity we know it happened and yet we’ve got to fix the problem we’ve got to keep the power but to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name so they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus but peter and john replied which is right in God’s eyes to listen to you or to him you be the judges as for us we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard peter and john stand up to those that are in power they stand up to those that would oppose them and yet I would suggest as we wrestle with it they do it in a way that is completely other to how the world might approach it and I would suggest that as we figure out what it is to

stand up to those that are in power it raises good questions for us just as to how do we do that as people that encounter powerful bosses encounter people that choose to operate in power how do we approach that situation so after further threats they let them go they could not decide how to punish them because all the people were praising God for what had happened for the man who was miraculously healed was over 40 years old in obedience to Jesus peter and john choose not to fight power with power this is what Jesus said in the moment of his trial in the moment of his dealing with power he says my kingdom is not of this world if it were my servants would fight and for so many of us I think we would say our instinctive reaction to seeing power and having to oppose it is how do I fight back on the same terms and yet it seems that these earliest followers of Jesus their challenge to us is we don’t fight on the same terms

so how do they respond I would suggest that they respond with a completely alternative power we talked a few weeks ago about how this is an alternative community this Jesus community that springs up in acts 2 it doesn’t operate in the same systems that other communities do it it builds this community around hospitality around solidarity around mutuality all these different things that don’t fit into the normal ways that the world works how does this community take something and respond with a kind of power but a different kind of power and the release peter and john went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them when they heard this they raised their voices together in prayer to God their response to dealing with power is prayer but what they pray is almost more fascinating more interesting than that they pray let’s take a look at this prayer that they pray together

sovereign lord sovereign as in ruler sovereign as in above the systems of this world you made the heavens and earth and the sea and everything in them you made the things that are close to us the court system that we just faced the religious rulers and yet you made everything else as well so much bigger than what’s in front of us you spoke by the holy spirit through the mouth of your servant our father david why do the nations rage and the people’s blood in vain the kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the lord and against his anointed one indeed herod and pontius pilate met together with the gentiles and the people of israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed they did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen their first moment of prayer is to say something like this God you knew all this was going to happen a long time ago and

somehow you’re in charge of the system they recognize that God ultimately maintains control that is their first entry into prayer God you are in control of this you know that it’s happened and on some level you’ve allowed it to happen at some point they choose to be okay with that and then second they acknowledge the attacks they acknowledge the way that this group of religious leaders is persecuting them is maligning them they acknowledge the problem and that I think is something that is key for us as well because while we might not have religious leaders dragging us off I would suggest that everything that we’re reading here is relevant to you and I as we wrestle with what it is to feel attacked to feel the victim of some thing or somebody because I think that’s true for a lot of people that sit in any room some of us have stories that go back year after year after year some of us have stories of brokenness and hurt some of us

would wrestle with what it is to forgive someone who has abused us has damaged us in our minds that is true of so many people in any room it seems that in this prayer they are they are okay with acknowledging that the attack has taken place there’s these moments within the psalms called imprecatory prayers these moments where people throw out their human emotion to this incredible degree one of the most famous ones is is psalm 137 verse 9 it’s this story that’s reimagining the the attack of babylon on israel and it says something like this God happy are those who take your little ones and smash them against the rocks it’s this deep emotion and deep hurt that’s coming out and that sometimes is absolutely okay but it seems in this story at least God longs to bring us beyond just that emotion into something else as we

deal with power and abuse and her look what happens next now lord consider their threats they do not pray for a change of power they do not say God would you remove these people incredible as that might seem to us they do not pray for judgment of and on the religious leaders they don’t even pray for the attacks to stop I am baffled by this group of people because they do everything opposite to how I would do it I would approach this by saying God you’ve got to remove these people they are damaging they are toxic you’ve got to change this I would approach this by saying God bring judgment upon them because these people have acted in ways that are unacceptable I would pray God you’ve got to stop them doing this and yet in this moment they don’t pray any of that and that to me is fascinating and I wonder if we find tension in this because I think so much when we think about the idea of forgiveness one of

our deep concerns is does that mean that they just get off or get away with it does that mean that there’s no justice do I have to say that what they did is okay now notice none of what they say says that it’s okay none of what they pray says that what they are doing is good but but what it does do is it enables them to say God ultimately you are the judge of them it enables them to refuse to participate in the judgment of another human being and then finally enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus the third thing they do is they ask for help in being faithful in the midst of this God keep us faithful and those of you that have worked or been involved in any area of the world where christians experience real persecution would know that there’s people all over the place that are praying stuff exactly like

this regularly and often in the midst of persecution God help us to keep being faithful to you help us to continue to be the witnesses that you would long for us to be why is what they pray important and what can we learn from them I would suggest this the earliest followers of Jesus are aware that the human face in front of them is not the real enemy no matter how they have acted refusing to pray against them maintains the humanity of all involved and creates the possibility of forgiveness and for those of you that are wrestling with that that idea of forgiveness imagine the person in front of you that that creates that sense of oh they just need to experience judgment or that person has hurt me so much that person that inspires those rage fantasies that says I would love to see them in their moment of trial and judgment I would love to see them punished for what they have done it seems like for these earliest followers

there was no praying against them because that dehumanizes that removes the possibility that forgiveness may be part of the journey now let me give a caveat to that that does not mean there may not be a court case that does not mean they may need to move out of the house that does not mean that they may not go to prison that does not mean any of those things there may be still so many legal processes there may be ways that they experience judgment and yet what this does is it refuses to participate in that judgment it refuses to say it makes it possible to say God you are suffering you know and ultimately I choose to allow you to be the judge of them it allows us to tap into Jesus absurd command to us I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you perhaps one of the things that most separates Jesus from really any other religious teacher how can you ask this if people that are hurt and

wounded love your enemies it seems beyond what we can be expected to do at times and yet Jesus in a serious voice says love those that you would long to see harm come to it seems like for these group the primary purpose of prayer is not to get God to do what you think God ought to do but to be properly formed it’s like this recognition that we do not wrestle against flesh and blood but against principalities against powers against the rulers of the darkness of this age against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places as terrible as the people that we long to hate might be it seems like there is something behind those people that is the real enemy that they even at their worst and not the real enemy it’s this idea that prayer can change our perspective and help us form pathways of forgiveness even when what is done is atrocious and terrible this is a picture of simon weissenhall he became famous as a nazi hunter

at one point he tracked down many of the people that had worked with the nazi party and helped bring them to justice this is a man who has seen a whole group of people do the most unspeakable acts and while in a concentration camp uh he was working in a hospital doing some of the the grounds work and he was asked by a nurse to come with him to a room upstairs he was very nervous about what to expect he was like he’s suspecting some some kind of trick but was taken to the hospital bed of a young nazi officer who lay there slowly dying from the wounds that he had received and in that moment this young nazi officer looked at him and said I need to ask a jew any jew to forgive me and began to outpour some of the most terrible things that he had done things are things that I don’t even want to particularly repeat in this room but but at the end came back to his point of saying I would love you to forgive me

and simon weisenhall talks about in this moment he’s asking all of these questions silently in his head is this even mine to forgive how can I forgive for a whole nation what should I do and in that moment he said I got up and I walked out of the room and I shut the door behind me and the young man died just a couple of minutes later he left this man this human unforgiven to face death by himself those final moments now we could have all sorts of different reactions to whether he did the right thing or wrong thing but interestingly he himself had this struggle with whether he did the right thing or the wrong thing and during the next few decades he wrote letters to a hundred different religious leaders asking for their opinion on how he’d acted of those 199 of them responded saying you did the right thing you can’t be expected to give their forgiveness for an entire nation the crimes were not against you he has to face judgment for

them you did the right thing only one religious leader wrote back and said I feel like the fact that decades later you’re still wrestling with it means that you did the wrong thing means that the pathway to forgiveness was the pathway you should have taken what simon weissenhall it seemed discovered what this religion pointed out was that in the midst of holding this unforgiveness even when the crimes were unspeakable in the midst of holding that unforgiveness he thought he was holding this young man in prison in actual fact the person he was holding in prison was himself he was actually damaging himself more than anybody else and it seems like Jesus command for us to love our enemies is not necessarily for their sake it is not to say that what they did is okay it seems like he does it for us it seems like he says to us you cannot hold this burden of hate it is damaging to you and the best pathway even when it’s

painful is to choose to forgive to choose to relinquish judgment to one who can be trusted to judge not to say that what they did is okay but to choose to say God it is up to you and this moment as this disciples face this this persecution by this group of religious leaders which I will say is only going to get worse they’re going to have to react this way not just when one of them is arrested and released but they’re going to have to act this way when one of them is arrested and stoned to death when the roman emperor emperors take the church as their enemy and begin killing them by the hundreds and the thousands this approach isn’t just for now this approach is for always and it’s going to get harder and harder and harder to live by this principle but in this moment as they pray as they choose this journey we read the place where they were meeting was shaken and they were all filled with the holy spirit and spoke the word

of God boldly the invite that God gives you and I as we respond to power is to not fight as the world chooses to fight the invitation we’re given is to forgive even when forgiveness seems unreasonable and impossible and we don’t have the strength to do it in those moments we get to pray God you are sovereign I choose to remove myself as judge please give me the strength to be faithful I’m going to invite the worship team to come back and we’re going to pray together God as we process what it is to hold power there’s some of us in this room that are considered powerful and maybe the challenge is for us to ask how we hold that how it shapes our identity there’s some of us in the room that are wrestling with how to deal with powerful people we have bosses that we don’t like that we’re wrestling with that we would love to respond with the world’s power and yet you call us to a different way there are those of us that

are wrestling with forgiveness we have been hurt so deeply and it is not okay in our moments of praying out God would you judge this person would you bring some vengeance would you make it fair your invitation to us is to surrender that desire your invitation is to say God you are sovereign I choose not to be the judge I choose to ask that you would help me to be faithful even in the trial for those of us holding that sense of unforgiveness would you free us to forgive would you free us from the prisons that perhaps we’ve bind ourselves in would you lift the burden that it creates for us in this time of worship would you speak to us amen I’m going to invite you to stand as aaron leads us in worship