“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4).
These words of the Bible follow the sad story of Stephen in Acts 7. He was a courageous and faithful follower of God who, because of his truth-telling, paid with his life. Ponder some of the lessons we can learn from today’s text.
People can and do change. Saul is accused of having made “havock” of the church. He was watching Stephen die and was fine with it. He was dragging Christian men and women to prison and didn’t bat an eyelash. Yet, he became a child of God (Acts 9:22,26). If he can change, anybody can!
Persecution is part of the Christian’s life. The kind and severity depend upon where one resides. But the Bible clearly says those who live “godly…shall suffer persecution” (II Timothy 3:12). It then is up to us to deal with it effectively and positively.
Poor circumstances change lives. It may not always be for the good, but indeed, troubled times force us to make important decisions. As we see in our text, it drove Christians to go other places and “preach.” What will you do when life gets tough and rough?
On this day, may we do our best to emulate the lives of early followers of God. We may not have to die for our beliefs, but there may be times when we travel the road of ridicule. May it draw us closer to God and not drive us away.