Can A Story Change Your Life?


Message Title: Can A Story Change Your Life?
Active Faith (St francis quote about preaching the gopsel at all times)
Season: Easter
Main Text: *Acts 5:27-32;
Scripture Reading: John 20:19-31
RCL Scripture: *Acts 5:27-32; Psalm 118:14-29; Psalm 150; Revelation 1:4-8; John 20:19-31
Focus:  The knowledge of the Resurrected Jesus is transformative.
 To align our priorities and loyalties with Christ above every earthly authority.
Other Notes:
STORIES OF ACTIVE FAITH PEOPLE – st Francis, Shane Claiborne, mother Theresa, “hell’s kitchen” & Walter rauschenbach,

SCRIPTURE READING: John 20:19-31 19 It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they were filled with joy. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I am sending you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you don’t forgive them, they aren’t forgiven.” 24 Thomas, the one called Didymus,[a] one of the Twelve, wasn’t with the disciples when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples told him, “We’ve seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands, put my finger in the wounds left by the nails, and put my hand into his side, I won’t believe.” 26 After eight days his disciples were again in a house and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus entered and stood among them. He said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand into my side. No more disbelief. Believe!” 28 Thomas responded to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus replied, “Do you believe because you see me? Happy are those who don’t see and yet believe.” 30 Then Jesus did many other miraculous signs in his disciples’ presence, signs that aren’t recorded in this scroll. 31 But these things are written so that you will believe that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that believing, you will have life in his name.

ACTIVE FAITH SERIES INTRODUCTION:  A quote frequently mis-attributed to St. Francis of Assisi is “Preach the Gospel at all times, when necessary, use words.” Regardless of who coined this phrase, it is a solid phrase to live by. Over the season of Easter, we will study stories from Acts and John while considering how we can transform our faith to an active faith.

ACTIVE FAITH EXAMPLE:  As we journey through the our Active Faith series, I’ll also find examples of Christians throughout history who have lived an Active Faith.

We’ll talk about St. Francis first.

  1. Details about St Fran:
    1. From a wealthy family
    2. Went to war and was traumatized by the injuries and death he saw
      1. Rejected his family status of wealth and position for a role as a monk
      2. Took a vow of poverty and basically established a new “order” (Franciscan monks vs. Benedictine or Gregorian or other monks)
    3. He preached to birds and the response was so spiritual that he had a revelation of all creation being part of God’s family. He regularly preached to animals from that point forward.
      1. Source:
  2. St Francis was a tender and tortured soul that carried the burdens of war yet found peace in nature.
    1. Personal irony—I own a cat, she’s named after St Francis, we call her Franny. She however, is not a lover of animals. She doesn’t like her 4 cat siblings or 2 doggie siblings.

TRANSITION: St Francis loved preaching to animals but in our text for today we will hear how Peter broke the law by preaching. Two unconventional men with active faith to very different crowds! Let’s see how their faith will guide our own.

MAIN TEXT: Acts 5:27-32 27 The apostles were brought before the council where the high priest confronted them: 28 “In no uncertain terms, we demanded that you not teach in this name. And look at you! You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching. And you are determined to hold us responsible for this man’s death.” 29 Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than humans30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God has exalted Jesus to his right side as leader and savior so that he could enable Israel to change its heart and life and to find forgiveness for sins. 32 We are witnesses of such things, as is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”


  1. Context:
    1. After math of Easter- Remember, Jesus was executed by his own people through the authority of Rome. He was considered a criminal and a blasphemer by officials.
      1. They executed Jesus and hoped that it would squash this movement. Hopefully fear of being executed would quiet his disciples.
    2. By the time of Acts 5, Pentecost has already happened. The disciples were commissioned and equipped with the Holy Spirit to spread the story of Jesus to the ends of the earth.
      1. Though they are out preaching, this didn’t mean the tension in the air had calmed.
  2. Jesus’ disciples were not silenced by the high priest or Sadducees. They continued to preach the word of Jesus even though they had been strictly forbidden to do so.


  1. Connect to scripture reading:
    1. We can see that the gospel passage we read for our scripture reading had a transforming impact on their lives.
    2. The disciples saw the resurrected Jesus, Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them (yes this is described differently in Acts 2) and then told them to go and serve.
    3. Thomas wasn’t there and didn’t believe the other disciples. He wanted the same proof they received.
  2. This event changed their lives. The disciples were willing to risk their own death by continuing to preach the story of Jesus throughout Jerusalem.
    1. Eventually all 12 of the apostles would die for the Gospel.
      1. Judas out of guilt for his part in the story
      2. John in exile on an island
      3. The rest as martyrs
  3. The truth of Jesus Christ gave the disciples the bravery to stand up to human authority. The disciples aren’t looking for human approval in order to carry out the Great Commission. They would be faithful to Jesus at all cost.
    1. They are faithful to Jesus above their religion & religious leaders.
    2. They are faithful to Jesus above the government.
    3. They are faithful to Jesus above the culture.


  1. Not their own gain: The disciples were not rebellious against authorities in order to push any human agenda. They were preaching the hope of Christ regardless of what any authorities said.
    1. It’s no wonder that, later, the Apostle Paul writes to the Philippians about their citizenship in Heaven not on Earth. They had put too much emphasis on national pride.
  2. Political Loyalty: A podcast I listened to discussed a political candidate’s interview for a local election—I forget the state or candidate or political party. However, they asked him if he was loyal to his state or to his political party. The people wanted him to be loyal to his state first and foremost.
    1. Divided loyalty is not loyalty. Eventually, one will demand the whole amount. We cannot be loyal to two separate groups.
    2. i.e. Jesus speaks of not being able to serve both God and money in Matthew 6.

  3. Sorting our Priorities:
    1. Our priority isn’t to make sure the government (of any country) behaves in accordance to our faith.
      1. Our priority isn’t to a political party or politician.
        1. This is a tough one for me—it’s so easy to equate my hopes with what government officials say or the laws that will be passed. I can get wrapped up in hoping that all of America will see the world through the same Gospel lens as me.
      2. BUT the disciples were faithful to Jesus even at the risk of their lives- religion, government & culture.
        1. Early Christians were faithful to Jesus even when Christianity was illegal and punishable by death (including a gladiator death by wild beasts). It wasn’t until Constantine that Christianity was legalized. … and then we became the killers (aka the Holy Roman Empire slaughtering anyone who wouldn’t say yes to Jesus.)
      3. When faith and government mix, it makes a mess of both. It splits our priorities…. Eventually we choose one over the other.
    1. Our priority is to the teachings of Jesus.
      1. Does Jesus alter our politics or do our politics alter Jesus?
      2. Our faith acts outside of ANY authority apart from Jesus.
      3. There are countless martyrs (talked about in SS) we could study who died for their faith—the first that come to mind are Felicitas and Perpetua. Perpetua gave birth in jail, her father took the child. And then the two women were killed in arena games… (think gladiator games) … all because they loved Jesus. Theses mothers gave up their life & ability to raise their children for the Gospel.
        1. We get mad about books with words in them that we disagree with and call it persecution. We get mad about Christmas not being celebrated “properly” in retail stores or restaurants. These women died for their faith.


  1. We’ve lost our perspective much like St. Francis before he went to war.
  2. No matter what events are happening in the world (war, food shortage, elections, etc) our priority is to be faithful to Christ.
    1. Faithfulness to Christ does not look like cruelty to others.
    2. Faithfulness to Christ looks like compassion, hope, and mercy.
    3. Faithfulness to Christ looks like spending our energy on ministry, not on passing our beliefs in to laws.
    4. The laws of this world don’t dictate our mission, God does. Our job is to care for the vulnerable and spread the hope of the Resurrected Christ.
  3. Join with the bold Christians who have gone before us. Don’t cling to hope in human authorities but in Christ.

May we be transformed by the resurrected Jesus. May our priorities and loyalties be only to him.

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