Day 35: Intolerance

Acts 6:8-15 :

Stephen, full of faith and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. But some of those who were of the synagogue called “The Libertines,” and of the Cyrenians, of the Alexandrians, and of those of Cilicia and Asia arose, disputing with Stephen. They weren’t able to withstand the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke. Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes, and came against him and seized him, and brought him in to the council, and set up false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking blasphemous words against this holy place and the law. For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place, and will change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” All who sat in the council, fastening their eyes on him, saw his face like it was the face of an angel.

The true shape of intolerance can be seen here. The founders of the United States government realized that one of the ways that intolerance is realized is by placing limits on what can and cannot be said; hence “the freedom of speech.” Stephen was hauled into court and accused of “blasphemous words.” We read here that the reason the people were so upset was because they were unable to “withstand the wisdom and the Spirit” of Stephen. They took it out on Stephen and this is exactly the kind of intolerance we see in our world against Christians today.

The methods of persecution haven’t changed a whole lot either. They took him to court and “induced men to say” things that weren’t true. I guess you could say that the real instigators “laundered” their involvement in the “removal” of the Steven.

It is interesting that they admitted in court that Stephen threatened for Jesus of Nazareth to destroy this place. This is a bit inconsistent since they said Jesus was dead. It appears that they must still be a bit concerned about His resurrection being true. Why would they fight against the threat of a dead man? Or, how do they expect to fight against a person who can resurrect Himself? What are they going to do? Kill him again?

When men fight against the truth of God it is clearly their arrogance that is guiding them and arrogant men don’t like to be challenged. Righteous men are fearless and keep telling the truth anyway as we read next.