God is With Us: All In for God
Today we see the best and the worst. Stephen whose faith is so deep that he gives his life for it. And Saul, who has become so unable to see God at work in the world that he concurs in the killing of the deacon and disciple, Stephen.
Stephen is at his best because he is filled with the Holy Spirit. And I would like to suggest that Saul is at his worst because he does not yet know Jesus. He knows all of the Law, all of the right answers, but his pride keeps him from seeing Jesus and the action of the Holy Spirit. Stephen is all in for God.
Both the best and the worst, however, are influenced by the wonderful action of grace. Stephen dies seeing the presence of Jesus and knows of his eternal salvation. As such, he is all in for God. In imitation of Jesus, Stephen can forgive even those who kill him, seeking that God forgive them too.
Saul is changed when he loses the sight governed by his pride and opens his eyes, and more importantly his heart, to the Lord Jesus. Both Stephen and Saul become powerful witnesses to the power of God’s grace in our lives and in the world.
As we enter into the Christmas season, a time not just a day, we really celebrate the Incarnation of God-with-us when we are able to ask God to stretch wide our heart and soul so that Jesus can reside there. To remove the scales from our eyes so that we can see more clearly where it is God is active in the world. And most importantly, to help us turn our lives over to Jesus, so that we can be all in for God.
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