If you are a Christian, you should be causing trouble. It is that simple. If you are not causing trouble, you may need to ask if you are really a Christian. “What?” you ask. Yes it is true. Simply read the book of Acts and see for yourself. Here we had real deal Christians, and everywhere they went they caused trouble.
Still don’t believe me? Well, try reading the book and see for yourself. And especially consider what we read in Acts 17:6 where it says the disciples “caused trouble everywhere”. Did you get that? Wherever they went, they caused trouble!
Of course they did not go out of their way to cause trouble, to be obnoxious, or to pick a fight. They were not seeking to be troublemakers. They were however seeking to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ, and for doing that, they continually got into trouble.
That is simply the way it works: dare to faithfully and obediently serve our Lord, and trouble will ensue – guaranteed. That was certainly true when Jesus walked the earth, it was true for his disciples, and it has been true for 2000 years now.
Given that I am again reading through the book of Acts, let’s return to it. One thing I find so interesting is how much things follow on from what we read about in the gospels. For example, over the years I have kept a record of all the times in the gospels Jesus was hated, caused trouble and division, offended people, and rocked the boat.
It happened all the time. That was simply the way it was: you either loved the guy or hated the guy. There was no neutrality or middle ground with Jesus. He was, as John Stott famously put it, “Christ the Controversialist”. I recently wrote about this here: billmuehlenberg.com/2017/11/07/praise-controversy-dogmatism/
But when I read the book of Acts I find the very same thing happening in regard to his disciples. They too were always getting into trouble. They too were always causing division. They too were always causing an uproar. They too were controversial.
And how could they not be? They were following in the footsteps of their master. They were striving for Christlikeness. As a result, they rocked the boat, got a lot of people upset, and ending up causing trouble everywhere – just like it says in 17:6.
Again, read it for yourself. Christians are to above all be biblical. And if you want to be biblical, you have to read the Bible once in a while! Actually, you should be reading it every single day, along with serious study of it as well. Nothing less will suffice.
So just what do we find in Acts in this regard? It is actually much easier to list all the chapters when the disciples were NOT causing trouble than when they were! Consider this salient fact: every single chapter in Acts except for five mention all the persecution, dissension and division the disciples caused.
Those five chapters are these: 1, 3, 15, 25, 27. And what we find there is revealing:
1 – Jesus leaves; Judas is replaced
3 – A brief healing account, then a speech by Peter
15 – The Jerusalem council
25 – Paul before Festus and Agrippa
27 – Paul’s sailing adventure
So the only place we might expect an account of trouble would be in the opening verses of chapter 3. Otherwise we had speeches being given and the like. So the bottom line is this: in almost all the accounts of apostolic activity in the book of Acts, there is always mention of trouble, of strong reactions, of social upheaval.
This is simply the normal way the early disciples operated. They expected trouble and they got it. That was the normal Christian life. A life free of controversy, turmoil, division and trouble would never have occurred to them. It was just not part of the apostolic play book.
As I say, the evidence here is so overwhelming that it would become tedious to list all the passage where we read about such things occurring. As just one example therefore, let me mention a few verses found in chapter 17. We find at least five occasions there of trouble, division and turmoil erupting because of the apostolic message:
Acts 17: 4-6 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here”.
Acts 17:6 the disciples “turned the world upside down” (KJV); they “caused trouble everywhere” (GNB)
Acts 17:8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil.
Acts 17:13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up.
Acts 17:32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.”
All up I have listed thus far around 40 different examples of this in the book of Acts. By comparison, in my list on how Jesus shook things up, I have 63 entries listed from the gospels – and of course there would be some duplication there with the four gospels.
As mentioned, none of this should surprise us. The disciples simply continued what Jesus began to do. In fact, we find this rather interesting thing in Acts 1:1: “In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach.”
Luke, who wrote both the gospel and Acts, says in his first book (the gospel of Luke) he had written about what Jesus began to do. He now says in his second book (Acts) we will now find a continuation of this. But Jesus is taken up in the clouds in vv 10-11. So who continues his work?
His disciples obviously! And by extension we do as well. We continue what Jesus started. So just like Jesus, and just like the early disciples, we should expect a certain reaction when we stand strong and proclaim biblical truth. So, how does your Christian life stack up in comparison?
If the normal Christian life, as evidenced by Jesus and the disciples, is one of controversy, of commotion, of ruckus, of division, and of trouble, all that should characterise our lives as well. If not, we should be asking ourselves why. Are we living the normal Christian life or are we not?
As things heat up, it is time to choose. Will we stand with Christ and the apostles and stir things up a bit, or will we wimp out, seek to please men and try to live an uneventful life? Your call. It is either one or the other.