A “divorce” of faith…

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Acts 7:35 (The apostle Stephen said to the high priest who was questioning him) “It was this Moses whom (the Hebrews) rejected when they said, ‘Who made you a ruler and a judge?’ and whom God now sent as both ruler and liberator through the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 36 He led them out, having performed wonders and signs in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up a prophet for you from your own people as he raised me up.’ 38 He is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors; and he received living oracles to give to us. 39 Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him; instead, they pushed him aside, and in their hearts they turned back to Egypt, 40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make gods for us who will lead the way for us; as for this Moses who led us out from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has happened to him.’

Stephen had been taken in for questioning by the high priest and the council of elders in Jerusalem. Why? Because he and other apostles insisted on teaching the crowds about Jesus of Nazareth, how Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah – despite being told by the religious authorities to stop teaching in Jesus’ name. The passage above is only a part of the speech that spans from v.1 – 53. It mentions how the people actually rejected Moses, even after Moses had helped lead the people from slavery in Egypt. This pattern of rejection continued in Jesus. Needless to say, this did not go over well with the council. In fact, they were so outraged they had Stephen stoned to death, making Stephen the very first Christian martyr ever recorded.

It was the hope and prayer of the early Jewish Christians that all of Judaism would come to recognize Jesus as Messiah, but it was not to be. After decades of growing hostility and violence, Christianity became a separate faith tradition – a divorce of sorts within the Jewish faith community. Christianity has continued this pattern of conflict and divorce within itself, right up to our day. Churches split all the time, which no doubt grieves the Lord.

This chapter in Acts is prompting me to pray for unity for the Church across the world as division is constantly rearing its ugly head. It seems there is never a lack of things to fight about. I’m also praying for the local church I lead as pastor. We have been very fortunate not to experience significant division in recent years. That said, the bible teaches that the devil is like “a roaring lion waiting to devour”.

Lord Jesus send your spirit of unity to your Church. Give us grace to deny our human impulse for conflict. Teach us to love one another – even when we disagree. Teach me to be a peace-maker in my limited sphere of influence. Amen.

2 thoughts on “A “divorce” of faith…

  1. Marcie Sandall

    This was really a good reading. I hollered outloud all alone here in the house when I read that this speech of Stephan’s was so much for the authorities that they stoned him to death. Probably a slow and painful way to die! So sad!

    Re. Unity. I foresee in the future that Christians will be forced to band together to fight off active detractors/enemies of our God Jesus. While I probably won’t be around on earth to see it, I will be in the hereafter lending whatever support I can!
    Marcie Sandall

  2. Lyn Roger Zastrow

    I too continue to pray for the “Church”. The divisions happen for a reason – mostly as it loses its’ way to secularism. Rejoice has a lot to be thankful for with you as the shepherd.

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