Sunday, February 19, 2012

Acts 7:1-4


Summary retelling of Acts 7:1-4:

Fortunately, the high priest does not convict Stephen on false testimony.  The High priest gives Stephen an opportunity to defend himself.  Stephen begins his defense with the beginning of the Hebrew people: Abraham.  God appeared to Abraham and told him to leave Mesopotamia.  God told Abraham to leave his family (his safety net, as it were).  Once Abraham’s father had died, God asked Abraham to really cut the apron strings and move the whole way to Canaan (modern day Israel). 

Thoughts for Today:
First Thought:
Stephen begins his defense with what he believes that he and the high priest (and the rest of the Sanhedrin) have in common: Abraham (and as we shall see in the many days ahead he will also speak about Moses, the Law, and the Prophets as commonalities).  But this hope for common ground is not so that Stephen can defend himself and avoid punishment.  The goal in life is not “to avoid hardship.”  The goal in life is “to let our life bear witness to Christ.”  Stephen is not talking here about finding common ground so they can see eye to eye and understand him.  Stephen is beginning with Abraham so that he can spin out why Christ is important so that the council might have yet another chance to convert to following Jesus Christ.

How are these two agendas different?  (The two agendas are “seeing eye to eye with someone” and “converting someone to your faith.”)  How can the former get in the way of the latter agenda?

Second Thought:
Notice that one of the points that Stephen talks about is how Abraham had to “get away.”  He had to leave his own and family.  Now, don’t take this to mean that there is anything inherently wrong with family and spending time with them.  God gave us family to be a blessing.  But quite often if we desire to genuinely follow God we need to abandon our life and the things that put up roadblocks to following Christ.  The point isn’t so much that family is what Abraham had to leave.  The point is that Abraham needs to get away from his safety net so that he can learn to depend upon God.

How much do you really depend on God?  How much do you depend on your own provision or the provision of the people around you instead of depending on God?

Third Thought:
Abraham is asked to move into a land with which he had absolutely nothing in common.  It is significant to note that the Hebrew people were born out of an act of someone going into a foreign culture and living a life of testimonial to God.  This idea sounds quite a bit like what we would call “evangelism.”

Does the idea of evangelism scare you?  Does the idea of going into a bunch of people that you don’t know and talking to them about God bring up some fear?  What can you do to minimize that fear?

Passage for Tomorrow: Acts 7: 5-8
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