Last Sunday afternoon I was reading Acts, chapter 7. Most of the chapter contains the words of Stephen, a disciple of the early church, as he was on trial before a court of the Jewish rulers. In his testimony Stephen briefly highlights several key points of the history of the Hebrew people and their relationship with God. He talks about the call of God to Abraham. He tells the story of Joseph and the Hebrew people going into slavery in Egypt. He tells the story of Moses, and how God rescued His people and brought them into the Promised Land. And then he tells the story of Jesus.
One of the reasons he tells a story with so many parts is to show these people, who are the leaders of the Hebrew people, that the history they have with God moved towards, and reached its completion, in Jesus. His testimony culminates with a vision of heaven, as Stephen says,
"Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God."
And the response of the Hebrews to this story and vision of heaven?
"But they cried with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him."
Stephen gave these Hebrew leaders a guided tour of their history as God's people and showed them how it reached its peak with the coming of Jesus. In the shorthand of the church we call this the "Good News." Judging by the response of Stephen's audience this Good News was the very last thing they wanted to hear. The account in Acts shows us that these people found it to be bad news, and the killing of the messenger as the most appropriate response.
Today it remains the call of all Christians to carry the Good News to the world. Jesus gives us this task in Matthew 28:18-20, saying,
"All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We live in a world that is just as opposed to hearing the Good News of Jesus as the people that Stephen preached too. We may not face the kind of direct and violent response that he did, but the hatred that exists towards God, and particularly towards the mercy that He would give to sinners through His Son, Jesus, is just as prevalent. What we call Good News is taken by the world as anything but good news.
But the response of the world does not change the fact that the news of Jesus is not simply Good News, but the Very Best News.
So seek the Lord in prayer and then seek to share His Good News, wherever He would lead you. We share this news knowing, like Stephen did, that however the world may respond to it, ultimately all authority, on heaven and earth, is in the hands of our Savior and Lord. The response the world shows you is not a personal response towards you. Their acceptance or rejection is ultimately the acceptance or rejection of Jesus.
Jesus is your living Savior and Lord, now and forever, and you can carry His Good News with confidence wherever you go.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.