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Posts Tagged ‘Self-righteousness’

The stoning of St. Stephen by Gabriel-Jules Th...

Image via Wikipedia

This past Sunday the first lesson from the Revised Common Lectionary was the murder of Stephen.  The killers thought they were doing God a favor.  This is a timely lesson as battles of various kinds rage within the Christian family.  Here is my first attempt to preach on this story.  This photo shows an image of the story that sits atop the main gate to the church of Saint-Etienne du Mont (“St. Stephen in the Mountain”), in Paris.

Where Our Eyes Need to Be  A Sermon on Acts 6:8-7:1, 7:39-8:3

 

The Apostle Paul suffered from some kind of ailment that he called his “thorn in the flesh.”  We don’t know what it was, whether it was physical or emotional.  But whatever it was, it was never completely relieved.  If you ask me, the memory of what happened the day that Stephen died could count as a thorn, if not the thorn.  It was a memory that carried a sting.  Paul never forgot what he saw that day when he was still known as Saul, how he had guarded the coats, and how he had approved of the murder, and how he had then gone out and ravaged the church in like manner.

The murder of Stephen was the result of a family fight, a fight within the family of faith.  At that time Christians were still a group within the Jewish faith, and Stephen was a Greek-speaking Jew just like the people he disagreed with in the synagogue.

People being people, jealousy was no doubt one factor that was at work.  Stephen’s opponents tried to out-argue and out-speak him, but Stephen was a gifted speaker.  They couldn’t match the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke.

The far-deeper issue was that they could not accept what Stephen said about Jesus.  As far as they were concerned, as far as Saul was concerned, people like Stephen who followed the Jesus Way were wrong, dead wrong.  These people of Jesus were dishonoring God and disrespecting and misinterpreting God’s good law.  They were condoning sin and leading others to do the same.  For the sake of the true faith and true belief, Stephen had to be stopped. (more…)

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