Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Follow Jesus Above Anything Else

Scripture Texts: Acts 7: 33-60; Proverbs 9

Stephen continues to tell the familiar story of the history of the people of God. By this point in the telling the religious leaders might have begun to mentally wander some as the were beyond familiar with the story. That is until Stephen departs from the story as they have always told it to levy an accusation at the religious leaders.

By the end of the chapter the religious leaders are having Stephen killed because he is more interested in following Jesus than following the religious leaders of his day. There is a certain irony in the choice Stephen makes. The very people who should have been most ready to hear and experience the Messiah were the ones who rejected most violently.

Fast forward a couple thousand years and we are left to wonder if we would be Stephen or the religious leaders. The first reaction would be that we are Stephen, yet we must wonder how often we are actually more like the religious leaders. It is easy to miss what God is doing in our midst for the sake of preserving that which we like and benefit from.

We live in what feels like a unique time. Great debate is being had about the nature of marriage with the two major sides of the debate both claiming a religious foundation for their belief. It is quite possible both sides of the issue are correct and both sides are not. One thing is for certain, for some it is no longer about what God desires it is about protecting and preserving something that is liked and from which there is benefit.

The biggest marriage question to wrestle with is not about our preference or benefit, it is about how our lives are lived in light of Jesus Christ. We are not invited to follow some religious system driven by our own personal preferences or desires. Rather we are to be driven by following Jesus with reckless abandon.

We have our opinion about the status of marriage in our current context. Further we are clear about our preference and the way that we think best honors the love and grace of God as found in Jesus Christ. However, in the end our understanding is not as important as following Jesus with reckless abandon. Stephen was not killed because of wrong belief, nor was he killed because because he embodied the compassion of Christ to the world. He was killed because he refused to settle for anything less than following Jesus Christ with reckless abandon.

May we use our marriage as a path to follow Jesus with reckless abandon. May we be willing to put aside the way we would like to see the world so that the world can see Jesus. May we live our marriage in a way that we stand with Stephen and Jesus, and Jesus stands with us.

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