“On that day a great persecution broke out
against the church in Jerusalem,
and all except the apostles were scattered
throughout Judea and Samaria.”
Last week we looked at the testimony of Stephen before the Sanhedrin. Stephen essentially accused the leaders of idolatry, of worshipping the Temple and Mosaic Law similar to the Golden Calf. That was it. The people stoned Stephan. Watching the event was a man called Saul who would later be known as Paul. With that event, life changed for our early believers. The believers no longer met as a subgroup of Judaism, meeting in a patio of the Temple, but through persecution were scattered. A Jerusalem dynamic becomes a Judea and Samaria dynamic and ordinary people, not the apostles, became the carriers of the new faith.
Today our history is defined by a similar event. The Separatists, a subgroup of the Church of England became more and more suspect. They fled to Holland and eventually to the New World that was to become the United States of America.
We have codified our response to persecution for our personal beliefs in the first amendment of our constitution.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Even today we are clarifying what these words mean and debating to what extent government and religion must be separated and what that means. Whew! The battle for freedom of religion continues.
What does freedom of religion mean to you today? Let us reflect by making an accrostic of the word “faith.” Write an adjective or thought next to each letter.
Now spend a moment praying about each letter, thaking God for the freedom we have today to even pray, to read Scripture of choice in our language, and for all the beautiful music we have. We are blessed.