“However, the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands. As the prophet says: “ ‘Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. What kind of house will you build for me? Says the Lord. Or where will my resting place be? Has not my hand made all these things?’ You stiff-necked people! You are just like your ancestors: You always resist the Holy Spirit! Was there ever a prophet your ancestors did not persecute? They even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you have betrayed and murdered him? – you who have received the law that was given through angels but have not obeyed it.” Acts 7:48-53
Stephen finishes his retelling of the failures of Israel in embracing God’s messengers in the past, and now rejecting Jesus, with this strong condemnation of Israel’s leaders. The result is Stephen’s death by stoning. As Stephen was dying he prayed, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”
I’ve marked this passage with a big fat FORGIVENESS. You read about this kind of forgiveness in the paper. The families who lost church members in a massacre and within days voiced their forgiveness for the man who killed their loved ones. Kind of makes the daily little irritations of someone cutting in front of you at the stop light or a friend forgetting to return a call seem pretty minor. But I think these are exactly the moments to practice our Christian living. To make sure we temper our thoughts and calm our annoyance or displeasure and “turn the other cheek”. Certainly we can do that in light of the life sacrifices others have made in the name of Christ.
Dear Lord, help us to have a clean spirit and loving heart when it is hardest. Amen.