It was a lesson in the school of hard knocks for a promising young leader.
A crowd had gathered in an urban center, ready to hear him speak. He rose to the occasion, feeling a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit. He spoke with conviction and clarity, and found remarkable reception among the people.
But word of his explicitness about Jesus quickly made its way to the powers-that-be and ruffled their feathers. Soon they descended upon the young firebrand, and he and his ministry partner spent the night in custody before facing interrogation the following day.
Still his courage had not been in vain. They may have arrested Peter and his companion John (Acts 4:3), but “many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand” (Acts 4:4).
Arrest didn’t sink the advance of the gospel. The two went hand in hand.
The American Anomaly
The days of gospel persecution in the United States no longer just hang on the distant horizon; they are already here, at least for some. It’s beginning with the bakers, florists and photographers. Before long, the consensus may be that faithful biblical exposition is “hate speech.”
For 350 years, the church on American soil has enjoyed relatively little affliction for her fidelity to the Scriptures. This nation, though, is an anomaly in church history. And those days are passing, more quickly than many of us expected.
Once the most basic beliefs and morals of Christianity were taken for granted not only in the church, but in society at large. Now many of our most deeply held, once uncontroversial, claims are under full assault, within and without. Barring some change in trajectory, it will only be a matter of time before some of our leaders will find themselves in custody.