Read Acts 6
Focus on verse 10-11
I have always considered that the struggle between good an evil was an unfair fight, and today I am convinced that I am correct in that assumption. There is a sense in which evil seems to have the upper hand because those who are deceived by evil do not limit their strategy to a code of ethics. Those on the side of good often feel like they are fighting with hands tied behind their back when they restrain themselves from responding with the same evil tactics.
Today’s reading gives us a clear example of how this works. On the one side we have Stephen, the newly appointed deacon, full of grace and power, doing amazing signs and wonders among the people. On the other side you have the synagogue of the Freedmen who were offended by what Stephen was doing. They get into a dispute and the result exposes the strategy of evil.
But they (the Freedmen) could not withstand the wisdom and the Spirit with which he (Stephen) was speaking. Then they secretly instigated men who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and God.” (v. 10-11)
They then drag Stephen up in front of the council and bring these false charges against him. This is standard protocol for people who are deceived by evil. It is almost as if they know they cannot win playing by the rules, so they do whatever it takes to try to win. It seems tremendously unfair, and by human standards it is unfair. When we look at it from God’s perspective, however, we realize that the advantage is always on the side of truth and honesty because there is so much more to life than what we see and experience in the physical realm. Evil often appears to win in the short term of what we experience in the physical realm, but in the spiritual realm, the battle is already over and the victory goes to Jesus Christ.
This does not mean that what happens in the physical realm does not matter, it does very much matter, however, what matters most is the perspective and strategy with which we come against the evil that seeks to destroy us. We must never allow ourselves, as ambassadors of Christ, to be drawn into using the physically oriented tactics of the enemy to try to win the spiritually oriented battle in which we are embroiled.
The way we see Stephen manage this is a great example of how this is done. In tomorrows reading we will find the account of Stephen’s defense before the council and their reaction to it, which turns out to be a great victory in the spiritual realm that has a profound affect on the continued formation and growth of the church. If we were to judge it merely from the physical perspective, however, we might be inclined to view it as a tragic loss. Following Jesus can seem like a difficult struggle when we view it from an earthly perspective, but the thing is, if we are viewing it merely from an earthly perspective, we will miss seeing that it truly is an unfair fight, but the advantage is unquestionably in our favor.