I was in command of the US fleet in the North Atlantic. My opponent had a massive Soviet armada determined to destroy me. My job was simple: get a small convoy of ships across the dangerous waters with as many still battle worthy as possible. To be blunt, I really wanted to be the Soviets in this scenario. However, I had opened my big mouth and said I thought the scenario was winnable by the US, despite the overwhelming odds. My opponent, a grizzled wargaming veteran, voiced his doubts but I stuck by my words. In secret I actually sided with him. However, I was being obstinate, as high schoolers are apt to do. I couldn’t admit I was wrong and agree. Therefore, the natural consequence resulted: I was the one who was going to try and win with the US fleet. Then I thought of a particular strategy that could work.
My fleet was going to run the gauntlet as fast as possible. If a ship was damaged and couldn’t keep up, it was going to be left behind. We’d play all out defense, try to slip through the Soviet detection zones, and hope the Soviet targeting was faulty. If I could get even a handful of ships through, I’d win a minor victory. It would be close, but I thought I could keep enough alive to eek out a win. With my strategy decided, I went for it. Then a surprise turn of events happened: at a critical point when the Soviets needed to detect the main US fleet to be able to target said fleet with surface-to-surface missiles, subs, and planes, they failed. My opponent groaned loudly. The US fleet steamed through the gauntlet before the Soviets could converge and the bulk of the fleet made their way to safety. According to the scoring rules of the game, The Hunt for Red October, it was classified a major victory for the US. My opponent was stunned. Truth is, so was I. It was absolutely the right strategy even though it looked like it was an impossible scenario.
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” – Acts 5:27-32, ESV
There are plenty of things in this world that don’t make sense. Sometimes, God is the one who causes the conflict because He asks us to do something that is in direct conflict with the people around us. Perhaps what he’s asking us to do makes us feel like that overwhelmed US fleet trying to make it through a gauntlet of a much more powerful enemy. The right strategy is to always stand with God, even when everything you know and understand is telling you it’s a bad idea. Standing with God is never a bad idea. Our flesh, our deceitful hearts, and the ruler of the current age are all combined to fool us, to make us think there’s a better way. There isn’t.The best strategy is to do it God’s way.
This is what Peter and the rest of the apostles understood.They were face-to-face with the very people who found a way to put Jesus on the Cross. The implication was clear: “we can do it to you, too, for you followers are no greater than your master.” Peter and the others were not intimidated. They knew the truth of what they believed. Yes, they took a very harsh stance. They said, “whom you killed by hanging on a tree.” This is not the way they talked to the regular crowds. The apostles were talking to the men who plotted and deceived to have Jesus killed. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they refused to go along with these men. They would preach Christ, regardless of the consequences.
We must be just as bold. If we know God would have us do one thing when others tell us to do another, we must stand with God. God does what we perceive as impossible. Therefore, we should stand with Him. However, also note that the apostles’ response wasn’t all harshness. They also reminded these men that Jesus wasn’t just Messiah, but He also gave His life to offer repentance and forgiveness from sin. As we stand apart, we must also remember to give the reason we are standing apart: the hope and love we find in Jesus Christ. We must not forget our instructions: to go and make disciples of all nations. That includes among the people who doubt our stand, who condemn it.
Stand with God. Be not afraid. And share the reason for your stand.