“So I am telling you: Hands off these men! Let them alone. If this program or this work is merely human, it will fall apart, but if it is of God, there is nothing you can do about it—and you better not be found fighting against God!” Acts 5:38-39 MSG
When I first pursued my call to the ministry, I was told that I shouldn’t for different reasons: you are a woman, wait until your children are grown and out of school, you don’t have the money to waste on seminary, etc. However, I had no doubts that God called me to be a pastor. Oh, I questioned God on all the same things people questioned me about and the call to “feed My sheep” was loud and clear. And I wasn’t going to disobey God, even if others disagreed. This particular passage from Acts 5 was outlined for me in my small black Bible to remind me, that all I and the church attempt must be a result of God’s call for us to do so – or we would be found fighting against God.
The New Testament book of the Acts of the Apostles is all about how 12 disciples multiplied their faith, spread the Good News of Jesus Christ, and created the early church. The book recounts many signs and wonders bringing healing and hope; and yet for all the good they are persecuted by those in positions of power within the community and even the faith community. Yet in one council meeting a well-respected teacher and Pharisee named Gamaliel stood up, asked the apostles leave the room so he could have a word with his fellow council members. And that word was to “back off and see who is at the center of what is going on.”
Isaiah 55:11 reminds us God will have God’s way, “ so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Many tried to stop the Word, tried to stop the mission, tried to stop the messengers, and yet the Good News of Jesus Christ has risen above it all.
By the power of the Holy Spirit – because it wasn’t under my power – I followed what God directed in my life – through candidacy, through seminary, through ordination, and into each church I have been appointed. By His power and His plan, tuition was made available, bills were paid, strength and wisdom was given at just the right time, and perseverance and grace in times of challenges. By prayerfully waiting on Him and yielding to Him is the only way to keep God –Father, Son, and Spirit – “the main thing in all things”. When we do that, we are less likely to “fight against God.” It is a fact: those who fight against God will not win.
Just as our church is currently in the midst of renovating of the physical building and revival of our spiritual foundations, we need to know WHO is at the center of it. If the building program is only for our pride, and we are saying “look what WE did”, then it will fall apart and not change lives for Christ. If we are supporting the building program as a place for ministry AND a place where we re-center our lives on Christ, then we can only say “look what GOD has done.” And if we are against moving forward because of fear or jealously – when God has called us to step out in faith – then we will be “fighting against God.”