Please give a big welcome to JENNIFER SLATTERY to my blog.
When you’re under attack, what’s your first response? To lash out? Self-protect, maybe retreat? Or do you see it as an opportunity to share the gospel?
I hate to admit it, but I’m often tempted to slip into self-protection mode. In fact, my thoughts can be so consumed with me, eternity might not even come to mind. And yet, what if those uncomfortable, even unfair, situations we all face are divine opportunities to share Christ’s love and grace?
It was 35 A.D*., and the church was feeling considerable strain. It’d only been about five years since Jesus’ horrific crucifixion, and though Christianity was expanding like dandelions during a windy summer, early church leaders were experiencing incredible persecution.
And out walks Stephen, a man who was initially selected to help distribute food to widows. Not stand on the front lines for Christ. At least, had I been him, that’s what I would’ve thought. But not Stephen. Stepping out in faith and the power of the Holy Spirit, he began performing “amazing miracles and signs among the people”. (Acts. 6:8)
This began to create quite a stir, and not in a good way. One day, a group of “religious” men initiated a debate with Stephen. Not a wise move on their part. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, Stephen spoke with such wisdom, these men were left looking foolish.
Their response: to get even. Or at the very least, shut Stephen up.
“So they persuaded some men to lie about Stephen, saying, ‘We heard him blaspheme Moses, and even God” (Acts 6:11 NLT).
In the first century A.D., blasphemy was a capital offense. In other words, these men were drumming up support for the death penalty. Scripture says, “This roused the people, the elders, and teachers of religious law. So they arrested Stephen and brought him before the high council” (Acts. 6:12 NLT).
As Stephen, this man chosen to hand out food to widows, stood before this very powerful group of men, the high priest asked him point blank if the accusations against him were true. (Acts 7:1)
That was his out, right? If I’d been him, I would’ve been quick to jump to my own defense. I’m not a huge fan of death, especially death by stoning. I’m certainly not a fan of dying for something I didn’t do, and if given the chance to clear things up, well…
I really doubt I’d see it as an opportunity to share the gospel.
But that’s exactly what Stephen did. Without answering the charges against him, he launched directly into a long, detailed speech leading to one central truth: Jesus, the man those he was addressing had murdered, was the long promised Messiah.
Because regardless of what Stephen was doing, whether feeding poor and lonely widows or standing before a crowd of powerful men, his mind was centered on one thing: Christ and His eternal mission.
As I read this biblical account, one question niggled: Would I be able to do the same? Or would I be so focused on self, I’d fail to recognize the eternal opportunity God had provided?
I doubt I’ll ever face a life-threatening situation like Stephen did, but I face countless opportunities to share truth just the same. If only I’d learn, through prayer and consistent practice, to take my focus off of myself and place it firmly on Christ and the world He so dearly loves.
What about you? Can you share a time when, empowered by the Holy Spirit, you used a potentially dangerous or frightening encounter to share the gospel? What are some ways you have learned to become less self-focused and more eternity minded? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!
*Using the dates provided in Tyndale Study Bible, page 2362
Jennifer Slattery writes soul-stirring fiction for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café Devotions, and the group blog, Faith-filled Friends. When not writing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Visit with Jennifer online at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com and connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte
Abandoned by her husband for another woman, Tammy Kuhn, an organ procurement coordinator often finds herself in tense and bitter moments. After an altercation with a doctor, she is fighting to keep her job and her sanity when one late night she encounters her old flame Nick. She walks right into his moment of facing an unthinkable tragedy. Because they both have learned to find eternal purposes in every event and encounter, it doesn’t take long to discover that their lives are intertwined but the ICU is no place for romance….or is it? Could this be where life begins again?
Intertwined, part of New Hope Publisher’s contemporary fiction line, is a great reminder of how God can turn our greatest tragedies and failures into beautiful acts of love and grace. Readers will fall in love with the realistic characters and enjoy the combination of depth, heart-felt emotion and humor that makes Jennifer’s novels so appealing. Readers will be inspired to find God in every moment and encounter in their own lives!
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