Today’s devotion was written by Julie Mitchell.
In Acts 7:2-4, Stephen begins his defense before the Sanhedrin. “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran.” Leaning into their shared, common history, Stephen acknowledged Israel’s history to demonstrate his points.
Addressing the crowd with “brothers” and “fathers,” Stephen’s message is personal ~ as he is speaking to his fellow Jewish people, priests, scribes, and elders. Next, he moves not to instruct the Sanhedrin on points of Jewish history they were ignorant of, but to emphasize parts of their shared history they may not have considered: God never limits himself geographically to one dwelling place or locality. Even in the distant land of Mesopotamia, God was present with Abraham. And, the Jewish people of the time tended to disregard and reject those God had sent to them.
Stephen’s defense is one of pure Christianity and paves the way for presenting the gospel to the Gentiles.
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King wrote a letter to eight fellow religious leaders while he was imprisoned as a participant in a nonviolent demonstration against segregation. In his opening paragraph, Dr. King writes, “But since I feel that you are men of genuine good will and your criticisms are sincerely set forth, I would like to answer your statement in what I hope will be patient and reasonable terms.” Like Stephen, Dr. King massages and offers language that is inviting and soliciting to his difficult audience.
Were you ever called to address a “tough crowd?” What were the circumstances? How did you prepare for your address?
Think about the above and reflect if inviting the Holy Spirit to act with you might have helped you, changed the outcome, informed your steps, etc.
Please share your thoughts, comments, questions. We love hearing from you!