I started a new job recently, working in a retail environment where I was basically starting over. I had much to learn: same field, new company. The new work overlapped some with my former job, but I had to learn which aspects were the same and which differed. The broad training process didn’t prepare me for many specifics. When I felt unsure, I asked someone.
I learned quickly that I got contradictory answers from various people. I had to choose to whom I would listen. The weight of the answers I got lay in direct proportion to the person’s authority on the job. When I got conflicting answers to taking action, I would listen to the person who had the most authority.
The apostles deal with this very issue when the Sanhedrin issues a warning not to teach in Jesus’ name. They realize that they have already received a command from a higher authority. Jesus has charged them to be his witnesses starting in Jerusalem (Acts 1:9). They cannot obey both; they must decide. Peter and the apostles reply, “We must obey God rather than any human authority.”
Each of us faces pressure regularly to compromise on what God has revealed. We can justify shortcuts and easily manufacture excuses as to why following God’s instruction is outdated or irrelevant. But we must make the choice: follow God or obey any other voice. God honors the decision of the apostles by expanding the reach of their ministry (Acts 6:1). He will honor our decision to follow also, even if that means disobeying lesser authorities.
Lord, give me courage to obey you, even if that means disobeying or disappointing others. Amen.