In the past few years, criminal justice reform has changed how law makers view crime. New legislation introduced by California no longer prosecutes individuals who shop lift items under one thousand dollars. This decision has created a loop hole that appears to encourage civil disobedience. Civil disobedience is the active refusal of a citizen to obey certain laws, demands, orders or commands of a government.
So they brought them and set them before the council (Sanhedrin). And the high priest examined them by questioning, 28 Saying, We definitely commanded and strictly charged you not to teach in or about this Name; yet here you have flooded Jerusalem with your doctrine and you intend to bring this Man’s blood upon us, Acts 5:27-28.
During the first century, followers of Jesus needed to comply with Roman and religious regulations. The Sanhedrin served as the supreme Jewish legislative and judicial court. The context of the passage above finds that disciples were preaching and teaching Jesus as the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. This was in conflict with the council’s beliefs. Thus, the disciples were warned to stop publicly teaching the gospel message.
Then Peter and the apostles replied, We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, Whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree (cross). 31 God exalted Him to His right hand to be Prince and Leader and Savior and Deliverer and Preserver, in order to grant repentance to Israel and to bestow forgiveness and release from sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these things, and the Holy Spirit is also, Whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him, Acts 5:29-32.
Instead of backing down to comply with religious leaders, the apostles take a stand. When man made rules go around the teachings of the Bible, Peter explains why civil disobedience is necessary on this occasion. Instead of abandoning their convictions, the apostles stayed true to their beliefs. When you fast forward to later in the first century, many of Jesus’ disciples were willing to die rather than deny their faith. This is the moral dilemma that exists when you decide to exercise civil disobedience like the New Jersey owners of Atilis Gym.
by Jay Mankus