St. Johns Parish Church Johns Island SC

God Is Working With Us

Acts 7

This is a great summary of the story of how God is working with us.  It is worth a regular reading to keep yourself “in the flow.”

Stephen was doing fine in his little speech until verse 51.  Now the Jewish leadership is threatened and blamed for this whole mess.  It is a threat to their livelihood as “church” leaders but more importantly they had really been trying to do everything correctly, checking all the boxes. To be told that they had not understood the story was so insulting and discouraging that they couldn’t bear it. The telling line could be lost as a throw away line - “You who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”  They WERE keeping the law. It was their JOB to dot i’s and cross t’s. I can hear them saying “WHAT? Us not keeping the law? Are you crazy? We have made up hundreds of other laws to make sure we never not keep the actual law.” They miss the point, don’t they? It is the law in their hearts that they just don’t get.
So they stone Stephen.  This is very hard. Stephen is doing the right thing for God and God let’s Him get killed. In my Sozo prayer experience I saw Jesus just standing there on the beach with me and my brother Jon while Jon was killed.  Jesus was there. But not the Jesus I wanted. We all struggle with Jesus letting suffering happen. But here is a wonderful model of God’s perspective in His story. Death is no trouble for Stephen. He is going to God.  God knows that. Stephen knows that. And perhaps in the timelessness of heaven, God asked Stephen (and Jon) for permission to kill them as part of the story. What would they have said? What would you say? Yes. Of course. Sure. At your service, Lord.  Death is no trouble.
We can’t be Pollyannish about it, “Oh, suffering is all good.”  I attended an anti- sex trafficking training earlier this week. This kind of activity is just awful and Charleston is a hub for it in the state.  There is so much suffering for those girls it is numbing. Why does God allow that…? Freedom. He has to let us have freedom in order for justice to be justice and for love to be love. The suffering of Christians is part of the story of redemption and our part in it.  This other suffering is just Satanic and we must battle that and bring Christ’s healing into that with all our resources.
Stephen “fell asleep.”  No. Stephen was... stoned.... to.... death.  Being a Christian is not a walk in the park. Dying to self is hard. If you are not being persecuted, attacked......step into the fray. There is “war in heaven,”..... and in our backyard.

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