Acts 7:55-60 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=172557207
This weekend at assembly, a friend and pastor used the words from a rock song by the band “My Chemical Romance”. I think they have just as much relevance for Acts 7:
You’ve got to, make a choice if the music drowns you out
Raise your voice every single time they try and shut your mouth
Sing it for the boys, sing it for the girls
Every time that you lose it sing it for the world
Sing it from the heart
Sing it till you’re nuts
Sing it out for the ones that’ll hate your guts
Steven made a choice that would cost him, and many others who made it with him, everything. Folowing Jesus is something that our scriptures and the tradition of the church are clear about…. that it will cost you everything.
We all like the Bible verses that make us feel warm and fuzzy… the ones like last sunday’s readings about Jesus being the good shepherd and the attendant sunday school pictures of Jesus with a clean happy sheep that looks like it walked off the fabric softener bottle laying on his shoulders. Yeah, sheep don’t often look that way, and I don’t think Jesus did either. This is the guy who said to us: You will be hated by all because of my name. (Luke 21:17). Our New Testament professor talked about how we always like these warm fuzzy verses and embroider them and hang them in the kitchen. He said “Nobody has ever embroidered Luke 21:17.” So we did. One of us embroidered it for him as an end of term gift from our class. It never hung in his kitchen, but has a special spot over his desk.
Yep… Stephen knew what it meant to be hated. Are we really willing to sing out love even for those that will hate our guts? Especially for those who will hate our guts SPECIFICALLY because we sing out love?
1 Peter 2:1-10 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=172557240
1Pet. 2:1 Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. 2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
1Pet. 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
10 Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
This fits in… we have got to get rid of our ‘stuff’, our baggage, our hurts… and we have got to long only for Christ’s Grace to shine in, with, and through us. We have got to be the people got is calling us to be. It doesn’t get much more basic than this… once we were not a people, but now we are God’s people.
John 14:1-14 http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=172557265
13 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Power… serious power. But sometimes it just don’t work. If I weren’t focusing this easter on the book of Acts, I’d fuss with unanswered prayer along with acting in faith from earlier in the passage… probably messing with the idea that we’re called to act as if our prayers were already answered, by biting off more than we can chew and doing more than we can imagine having the strength or ability to complete.