What do you obey in those situations?
We obey a lot of different people and things. We obey the laws of the land. We obey the cultural norms. We obey the customs and traditions that we have been born into and/or have developed over a lifetime. We obey our friends' and families' expectations of us. We obey our natural selfish tendencies.
None of those things are wrong in and of themselves to obey. In fact, several of them can even be good things to obey. But what about when those things interfere with the choice to obey God?
In the context of the verse above, Peter and John have just been instructed by the Jewish leaders to quit talking about Jesus because it was causing a disturbance among the people. And their response was a beautiful guiding principle that we would do well to memorize and quote often in our heads if not sometimes out loud as well. "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God." How many past mistakes could have been avoided if we had spoken those words to whatever temptation was pulling us? How many relationships would have not suffered the biting remarks of anger if we had stopped to think about obedience to God instead of obedience to self-righteousness?
But of course, Peter and John weren't using it in exactly that way...they were discussing the specific choice of speaking about Jesus. Its interesting that they spoke so boldly and so powerfully when the rulers were commanding and threatening them not to. Whereas in America, where we have freedom of speech and freedom of religion, we hesitate and we keep silent. That is usually not out of fear of persecution either. Its out of nothing more than fear of awkwardness.
What have you seen and heard about Jesus? Why do you put your hope in him? Why do you follow him? May we be a people that has the courage once again to make a very definite distinction about who we are choosing to obey. And may we have the same drive to say "we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."