Well, not beyond faith, but this amazing bro was so serious about loving the Messiah Jesus and so loved the nation- that is, the people of Israel that in the face of death he still spoke “truth to power”. As I’ve often said, Stephen as per another more modern prophet-martyr, “We love to talk about the great Dietrich Bonhoeffer but nobody wants to be a Bonhoeffer.”
If you lose your life for the sake of Christ and HIS Good News you’ll find it. Choosing to hang on to our own power and control, one’s own privileged life is a sure path to the deepest loss, that of right relationship to our Savior. Love, God’s agape love is either active or it is mere theory. In this letter of witness (entitled “The Book of Acts”) we find massively clear demonstrations that God the Holy Spirit was alive and moving through His people. In that sense nothing’s changed an iota.
Here’s a question for us to ponder: What Old Testament king in Israel and Judah never heard the Word of God from a prophet (or two) whom God had sent to call them out with regard to their sin and it’s affect on His people as well as their witness to the wide world? Such is incredibly rare. Sadly so is discipleship, self-denial at times among those of us professing a Christian commitment.
Stephen’s martyrdom due to his original and a soon-to-come encounter with the Risen Christ as they stoned Stephen to death ultimately –created– Paul the apostle -through whom most of the New Testament was written. Saul became Paul but it didn’t happen until later.
The last thing Stephen saw in this world was his first glimpse of his Lord and Savior, Jesus.
Jesus said “And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” (Matthew 10.36) How true that was in Stephen’s murder by the hands of his fellow countrymen?
If you, dear reader, think this all this is about politics, culture or taxation you have truly and fully missed the point and likely missed what the Spirit is saying to us in these days.
We, like those among God’s chosen people who murdered the young deacon/prophet are slow to learn what so many are when one studies the depth and width of church history:
The wisdom of Gamaliel (Acts 5.33-42) given to the Sanhedrin was sound. Nobody fights God and wins, not now, not ever.
As always, thanks for stopping by. -Glenn