Acts 6b and 7
Yesterday, we left off with the 7 qualified individuals being chosen to take a load off of the apostles. One is given more attention than the rest. We see that because the power that was once seen in Christ, started to be seen in the disciples and now has moved on to other believers. Stephen is said to be full of grace and power and he started performing wonders and signs among the people.
Again we see the religious leaders take offense and try to squash any threat to their power and authority. As they stood up to dispute Stephen they quickly realized they could not outsmart or outwit him. So, as with Jesus, when they were unable to come up with a way to take him out on merit they made something up. They lied – and created a plan with multiple witnesses aligned with a fictional story to take out their problem.
All of chapter 7 is Stephen giving a summary of a year’s worth of children’s Sunday school material. He gives the details of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and Moses. He shows how God was at work throughout time and the constant opposition that faced Him, and then Stephen throws these man into that group. Stephen calls them uncircumcised in the heart and ears. He then points out that again God has been at work and when the story is retold – they would be the bad guys that opposed God and further the ones that killed the promised righteous one!
And like Jesus – he was put to death. They raised up stones to kill him and also like Jesus he asks for their forgiveness. Wow – to stand in the face of opposition and talk with conviction. He didn’t back down when it got difficult.
Our Christian walk at times has become too easy. As Stephen’s speech indicated; all throughout history, whenever someone made a stand for God, they eventually faced opposition. If we are not facing opposition, maybe people do not know where we stand. In John 16:33, Jesus tells us we will face trials, trouble, opposition, suffering, sorrows, tribulations (depending on your translation). Not a maybe or some will – instead a certainty that we will all face. As we make a stand for what is right we prepare for opposition knowing we can have peace while dealing with it because the verse doesn’t end there. It continues to say “Take heart, for I have overcome the world”.
What I pull most from the first few chapters of Acts is this: God has given His spirit, His power, so that we will go out into the world with BOLDNESS proclaiming the truth with love.
Read Acts 7 then watch this!
If you grew up watching Disney movies, then you most likely have heard Thumper’s most famous tagline. It’s easy to remember and fun to say while trying to mimic Thumper’s voice. “If you can’t say something nice, then don’t say nothing at all.”
This line is misleading. It gives the impression that the only things we should say should be nice. (Or at least considered nice.) It is wise to use caution when saying less than nice things; however, they are still necessary for the edification of the church. If Jesus spoke nicely about everything where would we be? He probably would not have done everything he did, He might not have died and been raised if he was nice to everyone.
Speaking truth is not always easy or fun. It is often the most difficult thing to do. In Acts chapter 7 Stephen is speaking things against the temple council and their actions with handling Jesus. Stephen tells them they care more about what their ancestors have to say than God. He also calls them out on worshiping the temple and not God.
If that wasn’t enough Stephen says this “You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” Did you catch it? He called them stubborn and heartless! Ouch, that’s not very nice. What would Thumper’s father say about that one?
Here is my take away, sometimes the truths we need to say aren’t always nice or well received but are needed to break down walls, so the holy spirit is able to change others and ourselves. That change we experience from the truth being told is way Better Than Nothing.
Here is my second takeaway, TACT is important. That is why I like to follow up with a compliment after the truth has been said.
Thanks, everyone for reading this week. I hope to see you at FUEL!