Facing Opposition

OPENING PRAYER

Almighty God, fill me with Your grace and power today.

 

Read: ACTS 6:8–15

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called)—Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia—who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.

11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.”

12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.”

15 All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.

 

Reflect: HOW DO YOU RESPOND WHEN SOMEONE SPEAKS AGAINST JESUS?

Stephen, one of the newly appointed deacons in the church (5), faces stiff opposition in this passage. He is pulled into a debate with some of his fellow Jews about his faith in Jesus as the Messiah (9). Stephen’s opponents lose the debate, but this does not mean that they embrace Stephen’s beliefs. Instead, they employ more devious methods for opposing Stephen (11–14).
In the midst of injustice, Stephen remains true to his faith. When facing the Jewish council, on trial for his life, his face is like that of an angel (15). Angels stand in the presence of God. Although Stephen is accused of undermining the Law of Moses, his face reflects God’s radiance just as Moses’ face did on Sinai (Exod. 34:29). Opposition drives Stephen closer to God.

Our own faith encounters opposition whenever someone defames the church, uses Jesus’ name as a curse, or denies the existence of God. It is easy for us in these situations to look the other way and to think that the person’s beliefs are a personal matter. But as Christians our response should be guided instead by a simple question: how might I best express my love for God in this situation? Sometimes silence is an appropriate response, and sometimes it is not.

 

APPLY

As you go through the day, seek out how you might express your love for God in every situation.

 

CLOSING PRAYER

Jesus, my Friend, give me greater love for You, that I may live for You today through my words, actions and attitudes.

 

Syndicated via Scripture Union. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
 

Terry Schneider