Jon Brown

READ : Acts 5:17-42

We must obey God rather than any human authority. (v. 29 NRSV)

A part of Christian history tells the story of civil disobedience for the sake of
gospel obedience. There is a long line of Christ-followers who, for the sake of the truth,
resisted the civil authorities of their day. In the first-century Roman Empire, the small
band of believers that existed confessed that “Jesus is Lord,” though Roman law required
them to say, “Caesar is Lord.” As Luke shares in Acts, the apostles were threatened and
beaten for their Christ proclamation because the religious authorities insisted that they
do otherwise.

The fifth article of the Belhar Confession invites Christians to live their way into
the part of our story that insists, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” It
is stated like this: “We believe that, in obedience to Jesus Christ . . . the church is
called to confess and to do all these things even though the authorities and human laws
might forbid them.” For those of us who live in relative religious freedom this is easier
to embrace than it is for those who live in religiously oppressive countries. Remember,
though, the Belhar Confession arose out of the context of apartheid; this statement was
not made without consequences. It may not be without consequences for us either.


Be gracious and merciful, Lord, to those in your world for whom the

consequences of faith are very real. Amen.