“As they stoned him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” He fell to his knees, shouting, “Lord, don’t charge them with this sin!” And with that, he died.”Acts 7:59-60
In Acts 6 we met Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, chosen by God to serve the people. And now we receive a history lesson from Stephen. If you have not read the 1st 5 books of the Bible in the Old Testament (the front section) Stephen provides a pretty succinct summary of the history. He even goes past those books all the way up to the book of Psalms.
The reason he gives this history lesson is to remind those accusing him of their own history. He illustrates the Plan of Salvation through the centuries. He wants them to see that Jesus is not a heretic. He is the Son of God Who came to redeemed the world. Stephen shares the Gospel message with the very people who have been waiting for the Messiah (the Promised One).
Stephen shared the story not to condemn them but rather to open their eyes. Religion had become the focus that trusting God was forgotten. Rituals became more important than living out one’s faith in all aspects of life.
Let’s just say those who were listening to Stephen did not receive what he had to say very well.
“The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage.” Acts 7:54
A couple of verses later we read how they put their fingers in their ears. Crazy, I know.
Stephen was killed for telling the Gospel story. But he did not hold a grudge. As he was being killed he prayed to God for the forgiveness of those who were killing him. He loved that much. He trusted God that fully.
In our own lives we become distracted by the rituals of religion that we lose sight of the authentic living of our faiths. We fixate on doing things the right way that we forget about the relationship God is seeking with each of us.
What we learn from Stephen in this story is to not lose the story of our faiths. It is important look back on our own faith story and how we have grown in maturity with God. We cannot forget the why of our faith.
By remembering our story we see the moments God directed our path, the times the Holy Spirit provided courage in times of fear, the courage Jesus gave us as we took a step of faith. The path is seen and the next steps can be better understood as we see the full journey.
Take time this week to reflect on your faith journey. It might be 2 decades long or 2 years long. It does not matter. Sit with God and see the story of your faith. Mark the high times of joy. Note the times of sadness. See the periods of growth. Celebrate how God was with you through it all.
A history lesson of faith in each of us. By learning from it we are better able to tell it to others so they can begin to have their own story of faith with God.
This Week’s Challenge
Outline your own story of faith. List the times of joy, of sorrow, of growth. See how God was in each part of it with you.