To be a martyr is to be a witness.
Stephen, the faithful waiter on widows, full of the Holy Spirit, performing miracles in the Name of Jesus Christ, was the first martyr for Jesus Christ. It’s amazing when we think about it. He was simply doing an ordinary job, but God’s power on Him was so evident that signs and wonders broke out, drawing attention, not unto him, but unto God.
Stephen ended up getting stoned for speaking the Truth when they questioned him. He stood firm and shared Jesus to a generation of people who literally ended up covering their ears and screaming at him. But, it wasn’t at him. What could Stephen really have to say that would be so powerful, so convicting in and of himself? Absolutely nothing. It was God whom they were closing their hearts and ears to. In their mass hysteria of delusion and hard-heartedness, they stoned a God-honoring man, a man who had the heart of serving, a man who had been called to wait on widows, a group of “the least of these.”
So, when it came down to it…Stephen was a witness for Jesus Christ. His life was a testimony of God’s amazing power and Truth.
So, what about us? Are we willing to stand up for the name of Jesus Christ in all areas of our lives, to be a witness for Him?
The bottom line is that it WILL end up costing everything we have to follow Jesus. That is why He tells us from the very start that if we are to follow Him that we have to deny ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him. He’s revealing up front that it’s costing our very lives to follow Him. But, He has given us the great exchange; He now lives inside of us, so He enables us to follow hard after Him in Spirit and Truth.
Today’s Christianity makes it look to easy and too cool to be in the kingdom. To have Jesus and our very desires, too—that is the marketing pitch in many churches today. And, I specifically use those words because it’s a business they are running, rather than the Kingdom of Jesus Christ they are growing. It’s going to be a sad day when people in churches are going to get hungry for the true and living God, and they are going to find that it was the blind leading the blind, and all are lost.
My prayer is that God will raise up shepherds after His own heart. Those like Stephen who are living to lay down their lives rather than deny Jesus Christ. Those like Stephen who are willing to serve in an ordinary way to bring glory to our extraordinary God. Those like Stephen who will be vessles willing to pour out supernatural wisdom, healing, and miracles to testify to the awesomeness and greatness of our God.
I am convinced that all of us who are desiring to live Godly lives for the sake of Jesus Christ and not ourselves are going to go through some new and profound testings in this day and age. Testings that will cost us as we stand in the Name of Jesus Christ. For some it may be relationships. Others, jobs. Others, even lives. But, there will be such testings. And, when they come, it will be allowed by our Lord into our lives for one very great purpose—TO TESTIFY FOR JESUS CHRIST. What an honor and privilege. No matter what the cost, giving Him our very all, our very lives is worth it all.
So, run the good race. Stand firm. And, minister before Him in His presence. He will strengthen you and make you bold for such a time as this for the sake of His Awesome and Holy Name
Saul, who would later be changed to Paul and who would make one of the greatest impacts in building the body of Christ, saw first-hand Stephen’s witness:
And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him. Acts 22:20