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The Whole Enchilada
"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.
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.  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
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."
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
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."
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. 
If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for
the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  If you suffer, it should
not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as
a meddler.  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;"
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.