“Foundation for Martyrdom”

Acts 6: 8-15

We ended last week with factions developing within the early fellowship when different groups felt they were not being treated fairly.  Oh my, we know this story.  The evening news is full of reports, demonstrations, and groups forming to defend their interest.  Our faith is challenged and grows in the presence of injustice and discrimination!  But today we see that those same feelings of opposition were brewing in the larger context.  Remember our young believers are still meeting within the Jewish Temple.

         The believers see Stephen, one of the men chosen to help distribute food more fairly among the widows, as being full of wisdom and the Holy Spirit.  Factions within the Temple that start stirring the pot of jealousy now target him.  Gossip spreads and the stories grow.  Most of us played that game as children where the first person in the circle whispers to the next etc. and by the time the words get around, the original message is all distorted.  It appears that this antagonism against Stephen is traveling along ethnic groupings but then it escalates to outright accusations based on lies.  Stephen is taken before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish court and accused of defaming Mosaic teachings.  Interestingly the chapter ends saying, “his face was like the face of an angel.”

         I can remember my mother questioning me and somehow she would look at me and know, “It is written all over your face!”  Lying did not work for me.  So what is written all over our face today?  As I think about our text in terms of spiritual growth, it seems that one of the marks of maturity is a continuity or integrity between our core self and our social presence.  We are not “two-faced,” pretending to be something we aren’t.  We walk the talk.  This is not a question of beauty but more asking if our faith is transparent in our countenance, in the way we live our lives. Let us spend a few minutes this morning asking the Holy Spirit to shine light on our lives and reveal to us areas where we are not being consistent, congruent.  Lord, we long to walk the walk and talk the talk so others may see and hear about the hope that is within us, even during tough times when truth is distorted.  Blessings as you grow in integrity.

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