But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. (Acts 4:17-18 KJV)
Sometimes, we marvel at the strangeness of the world, and how they react to the person of Jesus Christ. I have sometimes sat down to wonder, why does the world hate Jesus so much? I have been privileged to work amongst young people who when I first met them, their lives were nothing to write home about, and the devil was having a field day with them. However, after they had heard the Gospel of Jesus and they began to follow Him as their Lord and Saviour, all of a sudden, unexpected hatred, vitriol and strings of insults begin to arise from their parents, siblings and former friends against them; and I cannot explain it.
Why is this difficult for me to explain? I know that by the reason of their having encountered Jesus, they had dropped ungodly relationships with the opposite sexes which were going to destroy their destinies. Some of them had become more obedient and responsible at their homes than they were before. Generally, their encounter with Jesus had made them better sons, better daughters, better brothers and sisters, better neighbours/friends than before; yet, a quiet and strange vitriol of hatred and insult rises against them, and against their new commitment to follow Jesus (reading their Bibles, praying, attending fellowships, etc.)
I could have been lost in wonder had I not clearly been made to understand that there are two kingdoms at war here, and though that young one may not have noticed; but the moment he/she decided to be identified with Jesus, he/she triggered the hatred of the enemy (the god of this world) against him/her. The Bible talks about the prince of the power of the air, who reigns over those who have not believed (Ephesians 2 vs. 2). Once one decides to become a follower of Jesus, he/she triggers the hatred of the prince of the power of the air against him/her, and this in turn triggers hatred, persecution and misunderstanding from those who are still under the control of this wicked prince.
Had it not been that Jesus had warned them before now, the disciples would have wondered what their crime was. What they had done in healing the crippled man was a good thing; and they could not tell any lies about it- it was through faith IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST that the man was healed. The Lord Jesus had been raised from the dead, and even the Pharisees and the Chief priests knew this, because the soldiers they sent to guard the tomb of Jesus told them of his resurrection. However, they (propelled by the Prince of the power of the air) were still bent on stopping the testimony of Jesus.
Notice that they did not tell the Apostles to stop preaching. They only told them to stop preaching IN THE NAME OF JESUS. They were allowed to preach anything they liked. They can preach racial equality; they can preach against rape, they can preach financial empowerment, they can preach love for all men, they can preach against the political leaders of their day (the Roman Empire), they can preach human rights. You can go ahead and list all the things that they could preach…. But not Jesus of Nazareth. “Don’t preach in His Name”, they were warned.
From time immemorial, that name has been causing troubles. The name of Jesus has divided families, brothers and tribes. Many people today are called Pastors and Revs., but they are now known for financial empowerment, for positive thinking and confession, for better living, for railing against political authority, for speaking against racism and other social vices, they are known for every other thing but THE NAME OF JESUS. Yet, our call as believers is to go and proclaim Jesus as Lord; but for many it is more convenient and will grant a man better acceptance if he can rally his ministry, his songs, his writings, around something that men can easily accept, something that is not as divisive as the name of Jesus.
Now, this is how Satan is short-changing us, Peter proclaimed to the Priests and religious rulers thus: “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 KJV) Preach all you can, if you have not preached Jesus, you have not achieved anything. The battle is for the name of Jesus. Some have taken the easy road, choosing to stop talking about Jesus (because they consider it divisive), and hence find it convenient to talk about some other Biblical themes like love, peace, charity work, anti-social vices, etc. While it is not bad atimes for a child of God to join these campaigns against vices in the land; it is important to know that salvation can only come through the name of Jesus. So, whatever you do, wherever you find yourself, whatever opportunities you are given, don’t be ashamed to talk about Jesus. You can do it with some measure of wisdom, you can be tactical about it, but never pass on any opportunity given to you (to address both high and low, Christians and atheists, whichever group of people) to talk about Jesus.
Be warned however. The world will hate you. They will not give you any Peace prizes. They will not celebrate you when you die. But that does not matter. You owe your generation to tell them about Jesus. Preach Him, live for Him, and walk with Him. And while you are doing that, be aware of this: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2 Timothy 3:12 KJV)