“Come, follow me,” Jesus said.  Matthew 4:19

When he had finished washing the disciples’ feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place.“Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord’ and rightly so for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know all these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:12-16

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peace-makers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18

Something I struggle with as I read the Bible is how condensed it is. Time often passes in a verse or two; babies are born and are adults by the next verse. There are many names, particularly in the Older Testament, but there’s no back story or daily life recorded about most of them and there are countless people who stuck it out with God who are unnamed. Psalm 139 is a great comfort to me because I learn in it how intimately God knows and cares for me and each person before, after, and around me.

In Acts 1, as they were gathered together all the apostles are listed by name as was Mary the mother of Jesus. But other than Phillip, the only ones mentioned later are Peter and John. And then, in Acts 6 and 7, we learn about Stephen.

I like to think of him as one of the unnamed disciples in the upper room when the Holy Spirit, as tongues of flame, separated and rested on each person in there. Stephen was chosen as one of the men, “full of the Spirit and wisdom,” to have responsibility for the fair distribution of food to the widows who had joined the growing community. He is described in Acts 6:8 as a man, who, “full of God’s grace and power performed great wonders and signs among the people.”

Then, when some Jews argued with Stephen they “could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke (Acts 6:10). When he is interrogated by the Sanhedrin, Stephen gives a condensed history of the ancestry and doings of God’s people including prophecy and the final indictment of their complicity in the crucifixion of Jesus. The men listening could not bear the truth, so they stoned Stephen. His last two sentences: “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”, and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60).

What are the implications of this story for us in our life and time? How can we relate to a person like Stephen in our relationships, responsibilities and daily routines? The scriptures above give some answers: We are called by Jesus to follow him, to serve each other as he did, and to grow in the Holy Spirit-given wisdom from above. This week take some time and ask Jesus how he would have you follow him in your relationships, responsibilities and routines as a witness of him in your life.

By Carolyn Schmitt

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