Acts 7:40 They told Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt—we don’t know what has happened to him!’
Today’s passage from the Book of Acts (Acts 7:35-47), contains some of the things that Stephen spoke to the High Priest in Jerusalem , when he was put on trial for preaching Christianity. The charges made against him included accusations that he spoke blasphemous words against God and Moses. He was, therefore, taken before the High Priest, just like Christ, to answer those charges.
Stephen defended himself by re-telling the story of the ancient Hebrew people under the leadership of Moses. Using scripture, he showed how fickle the people of God had actually been, and that they had also historically rejected Moses, which led to the casting of the idolatrous golden calf. Stephen must have hoped that his words would cause the religious authorities to truly reflect on the past and acknowledge that the Jewish people had wandered from the truth. If he could have convinced them, then he would have helped them to understand that Christ had come into the world to redirect the Jews toward God. Unfortunately, instead of guiding them to a better awareness of God’s plan of salvation, Stephen incurred the wrath of the High Priest and incensed the people, who stoned him to death.
Last week, at the Umpqua Community college in Oregon, ten people were murdered, just for being Christians. They were shot in the head for simply declaring their belief in Christ. We usually hear of this kind of inhumane brutality in other lands and from past centuries. It has shocked us all and perhaps has made us more aware of the true costs of our Christian faith. It’s sad to think that such a terrible and tragic thing could happen in our land, and yet, every year, about 100,000 Christians lose their lives across the world for simply holding the same beliefs that we so casually carry in our hearts and minds.
So today, let’s think about how deep our faith in Christ actually is, and ask ourselves this question: do I try to live my life for Christ and is He worth dying for?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, when we think about Christian martyrs we conjure up images from past centuries, instead of in our present world. We conveniently forget that our faith often challenges the wickedness of the world, and so our people become easy targets across the nations. Help us to remain faithful to You. Let Your Holy Spirit comfort and be with those families in Umpqua and elsewhere, who are dealing with such a painful and unjust tragedy in their lives. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s devotion, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is one of John’s latest drawings called ‘Beyond the Cross.’ If you would like to view a larger version, please click on this link: BTC.