8 1 On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. 2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him. 3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
So as was said yesterday, this is the birth of the Church. Stephen handed over his life for this beginning. Yet we cannot forget the human aspect of what just happened. Yes we can be reminded that we are CALLED to pour out our lives for Christ. We are called to be willing to lay down everything we have for HIM! Yet we cannot forget our humanity. Verse 2 says “Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.” Interesting that it states clearly that these were “Godly men.” It would be a matter of debate if it just said he were buried and simply those around mourned. I realize there still may be some debate about it but I find it interesting that the Spirit specified the word “Godly.” I believe we can take this and realize the necessity to mourn. The reality of how broken our hearts can be over a loss. This was someone who fulfilled his mission, he did something incredible for the Lord! Scripture tells us to count ourselves blessed when we endure this such persecution. Yet we cannot forget the humanity of what is happening. We are flesh, we have sorrow, death is NOT a part of God’s perfect plan for humanity. (other than Jesus of course)
We must never overlook the brokenness someone has over someone’s death. We must never dust our shoulders off at someone’s sadness. Death is immense. Life is the plan. Death was the fall. Imagine the death not being for a righteous reason… Imagine not having some solitude there?! Imagine looking at the brokenness of the world falling apart around you and not knowing why things are happening. Not knowing what the outcome is to be. Here we stand. The world is falling apart and we don’t know the EXACT plan of the Father, but we know He is in control and has a plan.
Let us rest in the Word, and be reminded that we cannot rest in it if we are not IN IT! 🙂
Totally different focus now…. let’s continue reading:
3 But Saul began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.
So look… imagine hearing that your pastor used to beat Christians and imprison them for believing the exact things he is now preaching. Would you believe this transition? I love that God sets this up and shows us what Saul was doing before his transformation. Why? Because you’ve got no excuses. (I know that’s not proper grammar) God tells us about this man who was persecuting Christians and gives us this back story so that when we see him come to Christ there’s nothing we can add to our pot to say it’s “unworthy of being saved.” God reaches into the deepest, darkest, most disgusting hearts and cleanses them. Saul is simply in his deep dark period.
I said “totally different focus now” but really they were the same. You are called to love people. Both the sinner, and the broken. No matter what the circumstance, how messy the situation is, how vastly disappointed your flesh may feel about someone. You are called to love people.
God help me to love people as You do. Help me to embrace those who are hurting. Furthermore let me see past the sins of those around me and into their hearts. Fill me with passion instead of judgement. Make me love others more! Amen.
Do you know someone who has experienced loss recently? Please PLEASE do not slough off their feelings. These are the moments in which you are in Matthew 25… “”The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'” You are an ambassador of Christ. Go love them!!!!
How many people have you jumped to conclusions about because of their sin? Don’t stop reading now! lol Listen, many people are in their deep dark period just like Saul. You have no clue how many of those people God is going to use to do INCREDIBLE things for the Kingdom! Let’s not be quick to dismiss people due to their current relation to sin. Instead let’s be gracious, loving, encouraging, and truthfully reminding. I am not telling you to accept sin as great… I am simply reminding you of what we said a few days ago: God calls us to be ambassadors of hope not soldiers of wrath. Love on some people, Jesus came for the deep dark period…