As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he fell to his knees and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them;” and when he said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen had received the Holy Spirit and was afforded a special vision. He saw God in Heaven with Jesus Christ at the right hand of the Father. Did he see pure love, justice, truth, caring and forgiveness? We can only speculate. However, we do know that he was so moved by what he saw that he was inspired to bear witness to his fellow man. Unfortunately, for Stephen, they didn’t want to hear it. Matter of fact, they battered him to death.
What are the things in our lives that move us to action, even in the face of danger? Family? Romantic love? Friendship and fellowship? Subjective or objective ideals? Professional accomplishment?
The United States Department of Defense has confirmed 3404 US military deaths since the beginning of the war in Iraq and its subsequent occupation. Many of the fallen were moved to join the military out of a sense of service to their countryman. They swore oaths to defend and protect the laws of our land and the principles behind those laws. Are we repaying that debt, and in a sense honoring their sacrifice, by continuing a policy whose justifications change as often as its goals? It is a policy neither rooted in reason nor executed by a competent leader.
I have nothing but contempt for those that wire and detonate IED’s. I have no sympathy for those that take up arms against my country, my brothers and sisters, our moms and dads, our sons and daughters. They are directly responsible for the deaths of our soldiers and the hundreds of thousand, if not half a million, deaths of Iraqi citizens. In the same vein, I have no respect for those who place our soldiers in harms way, but can only smirk as they change explanations or justifications. Stephen’s last words were not of anger or bitterness. Nor were they of vengeance and hatred. He pleaded with his God to spare those who were, quite literally, murdering him. What will be our claim to the forgiveness of the 3404 fallen and the mercy of our God?