Saturday, February 18, 2012

Acts 6:11-15

Summary retelling of Acts 6:11-15:

The Jews that were against Stephen resorted to playing dirty.  They hire (instigate) some folks to dishonestly slander Stephen’s ministry and claim that Stephen is speaking against Moses and God.  They stir up the crowd enough that once again an arrest is made and someone following Jesus Christ has to go before the Sanhedrin.  They arrange for false witnesses to say that Stephen is speaking against the Law, the Temple, and their traditions.  The Sanhedrin looked to Stephen to defend himself and it was clear that he was not going to make his defense using only his own power. 

Thoughts for Today:
First Thought:
Here is yet another passage where a Christian is dragged before a court to be tried.  I actually find it amusing that this world really thinks it can judge things over which it has no power.  How many of us make snap decisions as to whether or not another person is “truly saved?” (And no, we shouldn’t be making that decision on God’s behalf!)  How many of us make snap decisions on what kind of worship is most pleasing to God? (When really what we are claiming is what kind of worship is most pleasing to us.)  How many of us make snap decisions on what “God is calling me to do?” (when really what we are claiming are the things the we are open to God calling us to do.)

What kind of topics do you sit in judgment over when you really don’t have any right to make that kind of spiritual decision?  Are there things you are “closed-minded” about that get in the way of God’s potential call for you?

Second Thought:
Of course, we can’t talk about this passage without also talking about the underhanded methods used by the people who wanted to get rid of Stephen.  They do just about anything to get the crowd riled up so that they can snuff out the good work that Stephen is trying to do.  Here is Stephen, “full of grace and the power of God” and he is a threat to the world.  So the world takes care of the threat.  It is the way of the world.  It is the way of anyone who sits in judgment over things that they really should not be judging.

Have you ever been falsely accused of something?  How much of being falsely accused were people who just wanted you to shut up?  How much of it was other people’s personal vendetta against you?  How much of it was denial in that people didn’t want to have to take what you were saying personally?

Third Thought:
Stephen’s face is said to be “as the face of an angel.”  I’m going to go completely into “speculation world” here.  We don’t really know what this expression literally means, but I think that we can get a pretty good idea.  Angels dwell in the presence of God.  I would assume that an angel would radiate God’s glory.  So I think it is pretty fair to say that Stephen was radiating God’s glory.  Angels also are God’s agents in the world.  That doesn’t mean that they are always sweet, kind, and “loving;” rather, it means that they would likely carry an expression for the task at hand.  I doubt Stephen was radiating some pure, sweet, innocent, “Jesus loves you” kind of expression.  I am more willing to bet that he was radiating some kind of “tough love” expression that let the Sanhedrin know that he had come to do serious business and to lay his life on the line for the truth.

Have you ever seen someone who for a moment or two looked like they were caught up by some divine (or other-worldly) expression?  If so, how did you respond?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 7: 1-4
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