When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. (NIV)
A man named Stephen spoke the truth and became the first Christian martyr. By telling people what they did not want to hear, he incurred their wrath. They killed him, even as he kept his eyes fixed on the glory of God.
There have been and continue to be countless martyrs for the faith, those who are willing to die so that others may know the truth. I think of Polycarp, who in A.D. 155 was told by the government to renounce Christ and worship Caesar. This elderly man told the governor that if he wanted to find out what it meant to be a Christian, he need only pick a day and Polycarp would be happy to teach him. They burned him at the stake in the middle of the arena. On January 1, 404, a man named Telemachus made his way down from the stands of the Colosseum in Rome to stop a gladiator fight amidst the jeers of the crowd, who wanted their bloody entertainment to continue. He was murdered in the sight of thousands.
To what arena has God called you? There are many things that pass for normal, acceptable, and enjoyable that are repugnant to God. Christians who seek the will of God know the truth. Will we speak it? Would you be willing to lose a friendship or offend a family a member to share the truth in love? Would you risk losing your job? Stephen, Polycarp, Telemachus, and all those who lost their lives for the truth knew that such strength comes from God.
Father, let me not be swayed by fear when it comes to speaking the truth about You. Help me to share Your words boldly and with grace that others may know Who You really are and the life You want with them. In the name of Jesus, Who willingly died so I could be Your son, amen.
Copyright © 2012 by Steven R.