I Am Different

Then all the council members stared at Stephen. They saw that his face looked like the face of an angel.     Acts 6:15 (CEV)

Stephen was one of seven who was given the job of caring for the Gentile widows. It wasn’t a “high level” job in the early church. The Gentile women were – women – but also not Jewish. But Stephen was seen in high regard by those who had the discernment to really see (Acts 6:8). And the ministry to which he was called must have been “Kingdom important” because it was making the enemies jealous and mad. They hauled Stephen up before the Sanhedrin and demanded he defend himself. (Remember how Jesus said not to worry about what to say when I have to defend myself to an adversary? Luke 21:12-15)

Stephen didn’t have to worry either. His face took on an un-earthly glow. And he spoke the inspired words of God to those who were attacking, not Stephen, but God Himself. God doesn’t need me to defend Him. He’s got that covered. Being a witness isn’t about confrontation and arguing someone into believing. It is about truly reflecting Jesus to them and letting the Holy Spirit do the convincing.

God’s message through Stephen was correcting the church leaders. I need to listen too. Stephen wasn’t being disrespectful to the Temple (Acts 7:44-47) because it was God built in His will and He gave the instructions on how to build it. But we have forgotten that God cannot be contained inside a structure. We have forgotten how big God is.

I began my spiritual journey 17 years ago this July. I was so small and unworthy before this mighty God who reached down to touch and heal me. I knelt before Him; allowed someone to dunk me in a pool of baptism in front of a thousand or more people I didn’t know, in a church that I was not a member. I didn’t care. I was clean and new and loved in a way that I had never been in my life. I was a child reaching out dirty little hands to my sinless Father. David, Peter, the thief on the cross, even the sinful woman were all people with whom I could identify. I learned about grace up close and personal.

I had nothing to boast about. My nose wasn’t in the air. I gave God my heart without question because I knew He was the only way. God is the way. He shows me the way. Gradually I changed under His teaching and example. People noticed the changed. Felt good. I forgot Who brought me to this new place. I began to think I’m changing the world when I am just really along for the ride on Jesus’ plan.

In the past you were dead because you sinned and fought against God. You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil…

For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.              Ephesians 2:1, 8-10 (HCSB)

Jesus had more reason to boast than any of us and yet He never did. What gift can I give to another that Jesus did not give first? What truth can I teach that Jesus didn’t teach first? I can love but Jesus loved first. What am I doing in God’s Kingdom that He couldn’t do without me? I am blessed to remember that it was Jesus’ plan to use Stephen; to use me. Stephen remembered that he was only an instrument in the hand of God and so God remembered him.

[Jesus said,] “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.”          Matthew 10:32 (KJV)

Does God “glow” throughout every part of my life? Do I live like I know that He is the air I breathe, the Light that guides me in darkness, the nourishment that supplies all that I need, and the wisdom and knowledge for all that He calls me to do? The difference in my life always comes back to God.

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