Acts 7:55-60 (Easter 5A)
7:55 But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the
glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
7:56 "Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God!"
7:57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against
7:58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses
laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
7:59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my
7:60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin
against them." When he had said this, he died.
This is probably not the story we want to use to recruit people into ministry. Just sayin'.
When is it right to simply give in and forgive, and when are we called to turn over the tables? I think some people in ministry confuse current circumstances with the stories of the martyrs and expect this kind of treatment over coffee cups or carpeting. If they then hold themselves as being more spiritual or evolved, they may sigh and say, "Thus it ever was. I forgive them."
But to be the living Body of Christ, and to lead one of its local manifestations, takes a different kind of courage. It requires taking stained glass seriously, if you have some, without letting stained glass become all there is about the church. It also requires figuring out the difference between the kind of verbal stoning that is unpleasant, certainly, and the kind of martyrdom that truly leads to death, which most of us will never experience.
There must be a better way, and I suspect it involves meeting people where they live and pointing out to them that God resides there with them. When we realize that and truly know it, we can't help living a little differently.