The Rev has a new understudy, the Curate Zeal. Zeal by name, zeal by nature. Fools jump in where angels fear to tread does not come close. His zeal is noteworthy. He is not afraid to tell it how it is; getting in your face with the gospel. But in the process, he leaves a trail of destruction that makes the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina look like a slight inconvenience.
Now, the Rev is not one to refuse anyone the opportunity to proclaim the Lord and since it means he didn’t have to prepare a sermon (because he’s lazy, as we know), the Curate Zeal was allowed his first opportunity in the pulpit.
When the Curate Zeal is not bashing people over their heads with warnings of eternal damnation and the necessity for repentance, he is bashing believers over their heads with exhortations to do as he does. So his passage of choice on this occasion was Acts 4:23-31. The scene is set where Peter and John have escaped from Prison. Their Christian brothers and sisters are fearful of the present persecution but the apostles pray for courage to continue to proclaim Jesus:
“Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.” Acts 4:29
This whole situation is a fulfilment of Psalms 2:
“Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?” Does the world not know that the gospel of God will not be stopped? Any attempt to subdue it, control it, downplay it, resist its potency or try to pull it down will not succeed. So the early Christians can have confidence that the Gospel will succeed. And then they are filled with the Holy Spirit and by the grace of God, given courage to proclaim Jesus. “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” Acts 4:31
Since the Curate Zeal is so keen to proclaim Jesus with boldness, he encourages the church to do likewise. This means literally all the time, everywhere. At home with family, in the shop when buying a paper. He rebuked believers who listen to the radio while driving. It is a perfect opportunity to stick your head out of the window and proclaim Jesus. It’s especially effective in a traffic jam when people are more likely to be able to hear you, just as long as it’s a warm day so that there is a greater chance they will have their windows down.
He rested on the final point of his one point sermon, there’s no excuse for not having at least a few warnings from your employer about preaching Jesus at work.
The Rev’s attention had since wandered but was pricked by this. Is it even biblical to be antagonistic for Jesus? The Curate Zeal would say it was not antagonism, just there is a big party to get to and there are still so many places, we need to get people in in a hurry (which may or may not be a slight misreading of Jesus’ parable on the same). The Rev was reminded of Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Paul gives a brief overview of Christian living in this chapter and the following. In not so many verses further on, Paul explains, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves.” Romans 13:1-2
In Britain, it is illegal to proclaim your faith in the workplace, not necessarily because you may be religious, but invariably it is because many aspects of the Christian faith is contrary to modern life and modern law so it is inevitable that someone will be offended. It is illegal to discriminate against age, gender including gender realignment, religion, sexual orientation, disability, being pregnant and race. Since at least two of these points are contrary to God’s law, possibly three depending on certain circumstances, it’s quite possible that somebody could be insulted.
So talking about Jesus today is offensive. It’s akin to Charlie Hebdo. It’s available, yes. Nobody is denying a Christian their right to an opinion. But that is all it is. But we know talking about Christ is offensive. So in order to obey our authorities, it seems, keeping the peace would mean to keep quiet. The Rev doesn’t like that. The Rev finds that equally offensive. But he also doesn’t want to purposefully break the law, when he could just talk with work colleagues outside of work. He’s allowed to do that of course.
But then it struck the Rev. The example from Acts 4 has nothing to do with bashing people over the head in the workplace. It has everything to do with being able to talk about Jesus freely. This, for now at least, is something that Christian’s can enjoy in a society that protects free speech. It may change of course. In fact, it should not come as any surprise if it does. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” John 15:18
So, can I justify collecting warnings from my employer for the sake of Christ? Probably not. It’s contrary to being honest, upright, patient, kind, quick to do good works, etc. While it might be difficult to believe, holiness is the true reflection of God and to be holy, you don’t need to say a thing.
To be continued……