Something Doesn't Look Right!
Read: Acts 4:13-22; Acts 26:24-29
Many years ago, before I was married, my family used to occasionally visit my step-mother's mother. Sometimes the two of us would bake, and this morning I was remembering an incident that involved a rather unusual cake.It might have been Easter time, and the cake had three layers that were laid out to make an animal shape. It was supposed to be a bunny, if memory serves me right. It was time to decorate the face. One thing is certain when I am involved in any decorating, simplicity always rules the day. Therefore, Jelly Beans were the candy of choice to create Peter Cotton Tail's facial features. We were pondering our creation when we realized something looked askew in Cake-land. There it was. The bunny's face was on upside-down. His eyes were where his mouth should have been. Of course, things were quickly made right. I never thought of it until now, but we truly had created an upside-down cake that had nothing to do with pineapple. That cake incident was funny and easily remedied because we knew where bunny eyes should be. Nobody would disagree about that.
However, we live in a world where there is little agreement concerning what is right-side-up and what is upside-down. Those of us who belong to Jesus and share a biblical world view often see things poles apart from those who look at the world through a different lens.
Several days ago, I heard an interview on James Dobson's Family Talk that involved Jack Phillips. His family owns the Masterpiece Cakeshop in Colorado. He bakes specialty cakes for everyone, but if asked to decorate with a theme in mind that violates his religious beliefs, he says no. Therefore, Phillips has been involved in litigation since 2012. His stance is much like the one taken by Peter and John in Acts 4:13-22. Let's look at what happened that caused Peter and John's adversaries to come against them and the Savior they loved, the One they wanted everyone to know.
In Acts 3, we read about a wonderful life-changing miracle. Can you imagine what is must have been like for a man who had never previously walked to stand on his feet and even leap and run? Wouldn't such a beautiful healing surely cause everyone who heard about it to run to the apostles to learn about Jesus? After all, no one disputed the miracle; however, since the religious leaders' thinking was upside-down from Peter and John's, they tried to squash their message. They were to no longer speak to anyone about Jesus. Peter and John's response? They, like Jack Phillips, chose to live by what God has said rather than the commands of men. In both cases, what honored God was in opposition to the mandates of men, and Jack Phillips, as well as Peter and John chose to put God first no matter the cost.
There is another thing I learned about Jack Phillips in that interview. Besides standing for truth, he also is walking in love toward those who have come against him. Talk about an upside-down response in a world which frequently lauds lashing back and getting even. This is where Jack Phillips' response reminds me of Paul's in Acts 26:24-29.
The apostle had been wrongly accused by his countrymen, and his case was being heard by King Agrippa and an official named Festus. When his sanity was questioned by Festus and when Agrippa wondered about Paul's desire for his conversion, Paul's words were strong and loving. In Acts 26:29, Paul boldly stated his desire. He wanted all who heard his words to belong to Jesus as he did and that none of them would suffer imprisonment as he had. The false accusations leveled against the apostle hadn't embittered him toward others.
In the interview with Jack Phillips, he was asked if those who have opposed him were welcome in his bakery. His answer was yes. He would love to serve them and it is his desire that they would hear the gospel. He has no ill will toward any of them, even though he and his family have undergone a great deal of pain and threats during these years. That is beautiful thinking that surely looks upside-down to this world.
We who share a biblical world view surely appear strange to those who do not. With the Holy Spirit's enabling, may we continue to hold out His truth and love, even though it is often opposed by those around us. May the Lord help us remember that we too used to see things very differently than the way we see them now. May we long for salvation for those the Lord puts in our paths, as Paul did and as Jack Phillips still does.