What may have seemed like an attempt to save his life, from Stephen, takes a turn here.

“And you continue, so bullheaded! Calluses on your hearts, flaps on your ears! Deliberately ignoring the Holy Spirit, you’re just like your ancestors. Was there ever a prophet who didn’t get the same treatment? Your ancestors killed anyone who dared talk about the coming of the Just One. And you’ve kept up the family tradition—traitors and murderers, all of you. You had God’s Law handed to you by angels—gift-wrapped!—and you squandered it!” Acts 7:51-53 (The Message)

Not concerned with the history of their faith, too consumed by controlling worship through institution, finally an accusation of ignoring the work of the Holy Spirit and murdering people that talk about the ‘Just One’. Stephen wasn’t trying to make friends of the religious rulers of Jerusalem. He must have known that speaking the truth of their rejection of God’s plan in Jesus he would not curry favour. Stephen’s thoughts, however, were not on preserving his mortal life but on the path of salvation that God has given us in Jesus. What he wanted was to be faithful and truthful to the ‘good news’ of Jesus Christ and not be intimidated by the threat of death.

Honestly, I find myself thinking twice about talking about Jesus to others when I think they may dislike or even abuse me. I can not imagine being in the position where my life is in the balance and taking such a hard line with those who hold my life in their hands. I would like to think that faced with such bullheaded and powerful people I may be moved by God to follow the conviction of my faith. But isn’t God moving me to stand up for Jesus in every situation to speak the truth of our rejection of God and our need of Jesus to reconcile us to him? Maybe not in the same direct manner as Stephen or with the same consequence, probably in a more congenial social setting , but as uncompromising and challenging as he. Without exception, each person needs to have insight into Jesus given by those who follow him. The situations we are in and the way we do this is certainly more varied than Stephen’s but the moving of God for us to speak faithfully and truthfully so is no less definite.

So, may we accept the moving of the Holy Spirit in our lives today to speak of Jesus and God’s plan of reconciliation for the whole world through him. Amen.

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