Acts 8:1b-25; Deuteronomy 33-34; Job 20
The death of Stephen was a watershed moment. Until that time, the new followers of Christ were tolerated in Jerusalem. His preaching, which cut the heart of the Jewish leaders when he accused them of crucifying Jesus and all the prophets before Him, created such a stir that not only did they murder him, they began a persecution of the followers of Christ. The followers, who had enjoyed favor because of the miracles, the good works, and the community they showed, became pariahs and most were forced out of Jerusalem. If the persecutors thought this would end the church, they were greatly mistaken. “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.” (Acts 8:4) Christianity did not thrive on paid preachers. Christianity grew because each and every person who was a follower of Jesus shared their story and they talked about how Jesus had risen from the dead. They didn’t do it for money (see Acts 8:20), they focused on Jesus because they were passionate about their faith. I wonder sometimes if I have lost that sense of passion. Oh, I go on special trips to share my faith, but then, I am supposed to do that during those times. Why am I less passionate in my every day dealings with people? Have we forgotten the price? How can we see the stories of Christians being killed because they wouldn’t renounce their faith and shake our heads in horror without their courage giving us strength to share our faith with others? Followers of Christ arise. Be His love. Be His forgiveness. Let others see Jesus in all that you say and do.
Lord God, it’s easy to sit back quietly in safety and mouth platitudes about my belief in You. Give me the grace and the strength to share Your love, grace and forgiveness with a passion. Help me to care enough about others that I tell them about Your salvation so that they will recognize that there is nothing more important in my life.