Acts 7:55-60 - The Stoning of Stephen
55 But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.
I had this book called Jesus Freaks. It was written by DC Talk (some of you reading this will know who they are). For those that don’t, they were a Christian band from back in the day!
Anyway, they wrote a book called Jesus Freaks (named after one of their songs) which was a compilation of stories, both from the Bible and modern day life, of people who sacrificed their lives for God. I loved this book, from the stories to the way the book was made and the first story in this book was this one of Stephen.
It's only in these moments that I ask the question:
Would I sacrifice my life for God?
I have made sacrifices for God but not to the place where I would lose my life.
Would you? Easier said than done right?
Stephen was such a godly man, full of wisdom and understanding. When he was arrested the council looked at him intently and saw his face looked like that of an Angel. He was unwavering in his faith. He wasn’t looking for fame or to be a celebrity christian. He wasn’t doing it for show and to see how many people would follow him. He didn’t want people to follow him, he wanted people to know Jesus and follow Him. He didn’t see what he was doing as insignificant, he saw every small thing he did to be for God.
That challenges me. What are my motives when I talk about faith? Do I talk about my faith enough? Am I bold in my faith? Do my actions speak of my faith?
Stephen went to his death for God. He can’t be only known for that. Like I said above, he was someone who was known for being full of faith, who was open to the Holy Spirit and who believed that actions were important. Bold in faith and humble in his actions. His eyes were fixed on God and God alone. He didn’t rely on his own understanding of things. Nothing clouded his judgement. He knew what he was being called to. It wasn’t a show, there was no ulterior motive. His direction was clear.
When I have come up against accusations or if someone has called my character into question how do I react? Do I show humility? Can I come to a place where I can say that I did everything to the best of my ability? Do I come with a vengeful anger? Do I scurry and put my head in the sand?
This particular story causes me to evaluate where I am in terms of faith and I hope that I can be true to myself about where I am in that because God actually knows! God loves me the exact same amount as Stephen and, although we may not think we possess the qualities that Stephen had, God doesn’t dismiss us. He walks with us, listens to us and shows compassion, mercy and love. No favouritism just a desire to see us be the best we can be.
Susie Keegan is a creative, a font nerd, a graphic designer and the Church of Ireland Chaplain to Dublin Institute of Technology with 11 years experience in youth work. Use ‘Comic Sans’ in the wrong context and you’ll feel her wrath! Being an author on this blog has really pushed her comfort zone and she is very happy to be part of this community.