Your home is large, in the middle of town, just a short walk from the jail. It is not exactly difficult to find. Would you allow the brethren to meet there to pray? Would you have the courage to draw attention to yourself with the long line of cars parked on the street, and the constant coming and going during a time when finding an excuse to arrest and murder people of your persuasion is the latest fad?
Or how about this scenario--you are an outsider where you live, an out-of-towner who owns her own business and depends upon the good will of the citizens there to keep you afloat financially. Since it is a small, family-run business it would not take much to ruin you. Yet you have come across a faith that makes wonderful sense and you believe it whole-heartedly. Still, the men who have taught you, a couple of well-known preachers of this belief, have been arrested. The whole city thinks of them as troublemakers. Only yours and one other family has actually “signed on.”
Are you willing to take them into your home? To insist that they take advantage of your hospitality, and even make a place for them when they escape from prison? What about your family if you are thrown into prison for “aiding and abetting?” What about your business when people find out you are backing these scalawags?
Mary of Jerusalem, the mother of John Mark (Acts 12), and Lydia, a native of Thyatira living in Philippi (Acts 16), did these things—women, mind you, who were not afraid to act and support regardless of what it might have cost them. They did not sit back waiting for men to do the scary stuff—they put their necks on the line, along with the necks of their families, and the good of their livelihoods and homes. They could have lost everything. Yet this is all reported so matter-of-factly that you wonder if they took more than a second to make the decisions they did.
What about us? The time may come when who we are and who we associate with could cost us reputations, jobs, homes, even our lives. Take a minute to “pretend” with real people’s names, with real thought about what it might cost. Could we do as well as they did? Will we do as well as they did?
I worry that too many of us find excuses that have to do with “propriety.” “How will we ever reach anyone if people think we approve of actions like that?” we rationalize. At what point will it ever look appropriate to support someone the world labels a troublemaker simply because he teaches the truth?
We use the word “stewardship” as our alibi. “Why, if we go out of business, we will have less contact with the community and be unable to influence them,” we say to justify ourselves. .At what point will it ever be good stewardship of our wealth to put our financial future on the line in support of the truth and those who preach it?
So take a moment today and play the game, “Let’s pretend…” Remember the example these faithful women have set, and others like them through the centuries. Make sure that when the time comes, we don’t look for excuses. Instead, we make our pretensions real, regardless the cost.
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God, Phil 1:27,28.
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