How should Christians live in a liminal moment such as our current global health crisis? All week long we have been studying the life and ministry of Stephen, one of the earliest followers of Jesus, attempting to answer that question. If you want to learn more about Stephen, start by reading the first post here. What we have seen in Stephen is a wonderful example of courage and trust in God. Are you willing to be like Stephen? Do you have his heart? It doesn’t mean that we need to be in people’s faces with accusation, though it might mean speaking truth to power like Stephen did. Instead look at Stephen’s heart. His heart was sold out for Christ. 100% in. Willing to sacrifice. Focused on others’ betterment rather than his own.
Or are we quiet about Jesus because we are afraid of some kind of negative response? In many places in the world, this is a very real possibility. In most countries, though, like the USA from where I write, it is highly unlikely that we are going to be arrested and brought up on trial like Stephen was. It is also doubtful that we are going to be physically assaulted like Stephen was.
Perhaps if we are appropriately bold about Jesus, we might get a negative response from some.
For example, a friend of mine described a colleague who accused my friend, “You wear your faith on your sleeve.” What the guy was insinuating was that my friend should have been quieter about his faith.
Another friend who is a retired teacher told me the story about her principal who requested her to remove a silhouette of the Nativity scene she had displayed on a window in her classroom. Rather than wait for her response, she walked into her classroom one morning to discover that the principal had maintenance throw the Nativity scene in the trash. While that is not persecution like we read about it in Acts 6:8-8:3, it is abrupt and can cause offense.
What other such feedback might we be scared of?
Fearful of being rejected.
Fearful of saying the wrong thing and being a poor messenger of Jesus.
We can feel inwardly upset or guilty when we stay quiet in what might be an appropriate moment to share Christ with others.
Another person told the story of playing music at work, and a Christian song came on. He was wondering what the other workers would think. “Are they judging me? Should I turn down the volume? Should I skip the Christian song?” These are normal thoughts we can have. Rather than allow those thoughts to lead you down a road of quiet disengagement, think through what could be the most healthy way to share the hope, love and good news of Jesus.
In the liminal moments we are living in, such as our world now in these days of virus, let us stand clearly for Christ, just like Stephen did, in both word and deed. Let us take necessary precautions so as not to spread the virus, and thus endanger vulnerable people.
Those of you have not lost your jobs or wages during this time, how can you be Christ/have the heart of Stephen and be all in and sacrificial for those struggling, letting them know you are showing the heart of Christ. What will it look like for you to bring his goodness to them? I’m not just talking financially, though that might be an option for some. If you do find yourself “stuck at home”, how can you reach out to others? Have the mind of Christ and show goodness as you share encouragement. How would Christ be? Be all in for him. Be sacrificial with your desires for the betterment of others, be people who regularly call and check on others. Mention your faith in Jesus, talk about it openly. Look for the goodness of God in the midst of struggle and difficulties.
This is our liminal moment! Let’s embrace God and his mission in the midst of it, just like Stephen did.