Coming Close: We Must Obey God Rather than Men

A weekly article by our Dean and Rector, Peet Dickinson

Peet Dickinson

“We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men.” Acts 5:28-29 ESV

How many times have I hesitated to say anything?  No one likes being rejected.  I can remember a particular time not long ago when I went ahead and spoke up and was summarily rejected.  I was trying to share the Gospel and the resulting holy life of those who come under the Lordship of Jesus, and those to whom I was speaking rejected me fairly quickly.  Over and over again I replayed the conversation in my mind trying to figure out what I had done wrong – how I could have presented the truth of God more palatably so as not to be rejected.  I wish I could say that I was concerned about the Gospel being rejected more than myself being rejected.  This episode was dominating my thoughts and causing me much anxiety.  I’m supposed to be a professional after all!

I began to pray to God and ask him how and why this happened and He reminded me of this passage from Acts.  In chapter 5 of Acts, the apostles are arrested by some of the Sadducees and thrown in prison for preaching the Gospel.  During the night, an angel of the Lord comes and opens the prison doors and sets them free.  The Lord instructs them that they must, “Go stand in the temple courts and tell the people the full message of this new life.”  As soon as they did this, they were brought before the Sanhedrin and scolded for continuing to preach in the name of Jesus even though the authorities had told them to stop.  To this, Peter and the other apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men!”

As I read this, I realized that I was guilty of seeking men’s approval and therefore being obedient to their desires and whims.  I was uncomfortable with the reaction of those who did not want to follow God’s way and I wanted to make it smoother and easier.  Quite frankly, I wanted to be liked.  Well, no matter whether one is a priest or a layperson, the demands of God are the same.  We are to obey him and not men.  We are to be concerned that we are honoring him and being faithful to him rather than concerned about how popular we are.  The Apostles had clearly learned this lesson.  Remember Peter is the one who disowned Jesus three times in order not to be rejected by men.  Yet, in this passage, we see a very different picture.

May we all follow their example and seek only to obey God.  We will very likely be rejected at times, but we will glory in the Lord which is infinitely better than human popularity.

Heavenly Father, give me opportunity to share your Good News with someone new today.  Make me bold because you have given me the blessed assurance that you are with me always and that I need not worry about being rejected by those to whom I speak.  You have embraced me and made me your own, and that will never change.  I will obey you, and you alone.  Amen.