In the early chapters on Acts we find the story of Stephen, Acts 6 & 7. Recently as I was working my way through the book of Acts, the story of Stephen pierced my heart more than ever before. It wasn’t the part where Stephen stands before the council and teaches with boldness, although that as always was convicting, but the very end where Stephen asks God for forgiveness for those who were stoning him.
During the past holiday season I struggled with loving those who live their lives in rebellion towards God. My heart was in a place where I just wanted to retreat into solitude rather than be around and interact with those who do not believe in the name of Jesus, many of them being family. We all know that our own family could be one of the hardest ministries in our lives. I somehow lost sight of the fact that their life styles look exactly as they should without God, only this time I had so much anger build up in me that I lost the right perspective.
I missed out on an amazing opportunity to share the love of God with them. I made myself unavailable, checked out in a sense. My heart was hardened, and that is not the heart of God. If only I had been more like Christ, who stepped down from heaven to wash, heal, teach, guide, and save, none but sinners. I am here, we are here, to serve those who hate us, love those who oppose us, to pray for those who want to hurt us. We know they are not against us, but God. We are to be faithful servants, who are an array of tools, always available to God to further His kingdom and bring Him glory. Stephen spoke with boldness in midst of opposition. He did not retreat. Filled with the Holy Spirit he proclaimed God’s truth with joy until the end. And there while being stoned by those opposing the truth, he asked God, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin” (Acts 7:60). Stephen knew that they did not know God but that he soon would see Him. “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (Acts 7:59), he cried out.
He was about our Father’s business, keeping a heavenly perspective. Am I keeping the right perspective, especially in the times when it’s hard to love someone? Let's pray for God's heart for people this coming week, that we might reach out as He did to us!