An older colleague once told me that part of my calling is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. To do that faithfully and sincerely, I need to understand why I’m doing that.
If I’m hoping for a place to promote myself and feed my ego, I’m not going to be too worried about the afflicted. And I’m not going to want to disrupt the comfortable ways of thinking and living of those comfortable people who pay my salary.
In Acts 6, with the setup of Stephen, we get a reminder of what can happen when you’re willing to speak with God’s wisdom solely for the glory of God. This, of course, doesn’t only apply to pastors. In this story, we see how church politics, fear and the desire for power can influence people in ungodly ways.
In case you haven’t noticed, those are three things still alive and well today.
What we see in Stephen’s case is a willingness to hold firm. Notice, though, his resolve wasn’t only behind what he believed. Yes, he had a conviction about who Jesus was. He had no problem proclaiming Christ. But what is most affirming is that as people accused him he did not turn from his choice to live like Jesus.
The text says everyone stared him down, probably believing the accusations against him already. But they couldn’t help but notice he had a “face of an angel.” What I take from that is Stephen’s desire to glorify God didn’t change because he was wrongly
accused. He understood what his role was in sharing the message of Christ.
He wasn’t looking for power, fame or even a chance to set everyone else straight. If he did, he may have responded in a much different manner. Instead, he gave his life for what he believed about the power of the gospel.
Many Christians today, on the other hand, seem preoccupied with control and ego. Speaking of potential mask mandates, I heard a preacher on a Sunday morning in a church worship service say something this week like this, “If they infringe on our first amendment rights, they’ll face our second amendment rights.”
Now, that’s an extreme example, I know. But it’s more common than we would hope. Plus, too many times we use Jesus to justify what we want. In other words, we want our own stages and our own way, and we’ll do anything to get them. Even if that means not living by the wisdom and Spirit of God.
There’s no chance we have the face of an angel when we do that.