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The Whole Enchilada

Acts 5:41
   

"So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name." (NASB) 

 In the 1989 movie Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella hears a voice saying, "If you build it, he will come," and interprets the mysterious message to mean that he should plow under his Iowa corn to build a baseball diamond. Which he does, resulting in Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven other banned players from the 1919 White Sox team showing up on his baseball diamond to play.
(http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0097351/plotsummary) 

 Toward the end of the movie Ray and Shoeless Joe have an exchange that goes to the heart of Ray's motives.  Ray says something to the effect of "I've done everything you've asked me to do and have never once asked, 'what's in it for me.'" "What are you saying?"  Shoeless Joe replies.  Ray fidgets, shifts his weight, looks down to the ground and says, "Well, what's in it for me?"

 Even the most selfless among us get around to asking the question eventually,  "What's in it for me?"  Part of the reason we do, is because we've been conditioned by Madison Avenue to think that way.  But really, no one had to teach us to be selfish it is natural.  Somewhere among the other single-syllabic words toddlers learn is always the word: "Mine!"  It is a word a small child will use to describe everything they like without regard to real ownership.  As we grow, we learn to share and care about other people's feelings and rights, but somewhere deep down inside is that nagging question, "What's in it for me?" 

 Even when it comes to matters of faith.

 We understand that becoming a Christian means surrender of our own will to God's will it is completely giving our lives to Him and submitting ourselves to His lordship.  We know that we no longer can claim ownership of our lives because we've been bought with a price.  We read Paul's opening words in Titus 1:1 "This letter is from Paul, a slave of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. . ." (NLT) and understand that Jesus is our Lord and we are His servant.  Intellectually, we know that what really matters is God's will and His Kingdom, but something inside of ourselves says, "Yeah, but that's just Church talk you know the kind of thing you say in Sunday School it isn't the real world."

 And so our duplicity continues.  We dabble in faith, but are not willing to swallow the whole enchilada.

 Not the early Christians.

 Our text says, "So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name." (Acts 5:41 NASB)

 God was manifesting Himself in powerful ways in the 5th Chapter of Acts.  After the purging of the church, the entire congregation was gripped by a great fear of the Lord (vs. 11).  And the Apostles began performing miraculous acts of service.  Those in need were flocking to the church and were being healed (vss 14-16).  You'd think everyone in town would be happy that the needy were being ministered to, but they weren't.  The religious leaders went into a jealous rage and arranged for the Apostles to be imprisoned (vss 17-18).

 But God was at work and an Angel of the Lord broke them out of jail and told them to get back to work proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, which they did at daybreak (vss 19-21).

 More political wrangling followed, resulting in the conspirators dragging the Apostles before the council.  The council confronted the apostles with not following their clear directive to never preach in the name of Jesus again.  The apostles didn't relent, but insisted that they would continue to follow God (vss 22-32).  The council was enraged with the apostles declared that the council was guilty of the blood of Jesus and was ready to kill them before Gamaliel stopped them with a voice of reason.  He said, "So my advice is, leave these men alone. If they are teaching and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. [39] But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God." Acts 5:38-39 (NLT) With that, they flogged the disciples, and once again warned them never to speak in Jesus' name again.

 Their reaction wasn't to gripe about their ill treatment.  They didn't call their lawyers because they were thrown in jail without a cause.  They didn't complain that they had to start work early the next morning without a decent night's sleep and neither did they complain that they were flogged.  Instead, the scripture records that they rejoiced "that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name."

 No "what's in it for me" attitude here they'd fully committed themselves to God.  They weren't dabbling in faith.  They'd swallowed the whole enchilada.  They were so committed to Christ that they were grateful for their flogging, because God considered them worthy to suffer for His name.

 This attitude is not isolated to this passage of scripture.  Jesus said, "Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:10 NASB) Jesus considered the persecuted blessed people.  In Luke 6:22 He said, "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and cast insults at you, and spurn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man."  (NASB) 

 Like Ray Kinsella, you might be ready to ask, "so what's in it for me?"  Well, I'm glad you asked.  Persecution does have its advantages.  For one, it makes you STRONG.  Romans 5:3 says, "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;" (NASB) Just like lifting weights builds muscles, going through trials builds character.

 It makes you strong, but it also SEPARATES THE TEMPORARY FROM THE PERMANENT.  Hebrews 10:34 says, "You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions." (NIV) Whenever everything else is stripped away what is left is what is most precious. 

 In the same vein, in your weakened state, you discover the SOURCE OF YOUR TRUE STRENGTH.  2 Cor. 12:10 says, "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong." (NASB) 

 Yes, persecution strengthens you, helps you know what is permanent and shows you the source of your true strength, but there's more. 

 The Apostles didn't rejoice because the flogging made them strong, long for heaven or because they found that God was the source of their strength.  They rejoiced because God found them WORTHY TO SUFFER FOR HIS NAME'S SAKE.

 Paul wrote, "For you have been given not only the privilege of trusting in Christ but also the privilege of suffering for him." (Philip. 1:29 NLT) And Peter wrote, "But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. [14] If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. [15] If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. [16] However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name." (1 Peter 4:13-16 NIV) 

 "What's in it for you?"  Fellowship with Christ.  Philip. 3:10 says, "That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;" (KJV) 

 You can't just pick and choose.  If you want to know the power of his resurrection, you'd better be ready to know the fellowship of his sufferings.

 Because you can't be finicky when it comes to following Christ you can't just dabble in faith, you have to eat the whole enchilada.

 

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