Acts 6:8 -15
One of the worst parts about dealing with other people is sometimes they fight dirty. Sometimes they say mean things, sometimes hurtful things, but sometimes they just make things up. Like, I do plenty of stupid things on my own, the last thing I need is someone adding to it things that aren’t true.
Stephen was teaching people about Jesus and because the religious elite did not like this, they set him up. They enticed the crowd, and men in it, to make claims that were not true. So, based on those claims, they grab him and take him to trial.
This is the hard part of following Jesus. Stephen was doing the right thing. He was doing something good. He was in the right. And he was arrested. They lied, they framed him. They set him up. We can’t be too surprised though, they did this to Jesus too. They set him up, framed him, falsely accused him, lied about him, and killed him.
Could your faith survive this? Let’s be honest, this story is a hard one to swallow. It gets even harder in the passages we’ll look at over the next few days. There are books and pastors and philosophies that teach us if we obey, we’ll be blessed. If we’re in God’s will things are the best. If we just make the right spiritual combination, the life of our dreams is right around the corner.
When I read this text though, when we look at the early accounts of the church and how the individuals who made up the church were treated, all we see are men and women being obedient and suffering for it. All we see is story after story of God doing great things through the Apostles, people joining them, and the persecution getting worse.
We have to understand this for following Jesus to really make sense. Sometimes following Jesus takes us to uncomfortable, painful, and dangerous places. Sometimes, we have to give things up to follow him. Sometimes we have to make sacrifices. Following Jesus isn’t about you eventually getting whatever you want, it’s about God changing your heart. That’s why the followers who ran away when Jesus was being crucified now stood boldly and asked God to keep them strong as they continued to speak in the midst of persecution. God had changed their hearts and he will do the same in us.
Following Jesus may not lead you where you want to go, but it will always lead you where you need to go.