Playing the First Martyr
As my heart was pumping hard near the steps of the podium, the host announced the next and the last performer of Fancy Dress Celebrations celebrated at Jesus Is Lord Ministries, Pune. What next? Jesus, I haven’t held a microphone since I rapped (a ‘nu metal’ before being born again) last during my college days, years back! Wish me grace!!
“Thanks Rex! Blessed greetings to all of you in Jesus name! Uh…I’m not playing Jesus this time (laughs). This character is little different. In fact, it’s different from my own personal character because I’m a shy guy and keep silence all the time. Actually, I never wanted to take part. But then, the Lord said, “If a 32-year old Man can die on the Cross for you naked, can’t you speak a few words for me?” Then I decided to be unashamed for the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, here I am.
Martyr Stephen mentioned in the Bible was very courageous and bold because he stood up for Christ. Recorded in Acts 6, he was full of Holy Spirit and faith; he did great signs and wonders. And by the way, he was the first among the 7 chosen men by the 12 disciples for the ministry of the Word. This selection was based on good reputation, wisdom, and being fully filled by Holy Spirit. Of course, the main highlight of Stephen’s story was that he was stoned to death because he represented Christ, he spoke the Truth. Their ears and hearts couldn’t bear the Spirit-filled words of Stephen; they gnashed their teeth at him and chased him out of the city to stone him till death.
But, Stephen had a heart like Jesus’ heart—he spoke almost the same words that Jesus spoke while “giving” His life at the Cross. When the time of his departure drew near, he gazed into the Heaven crying, “Lord, do not charge them for this sin.” And, before going asleep, he said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Now this is the portion of the persecuted – you receive God’s glory and honor from Him. The Scripture doesn’t even use the word “death” for Stephen’s martyr—it says, “…he went asleep.” When he looked up, he saw the Son of Man standing at the right hand of the Father to receive his spirit—Oh! What an honor! They may think you’re fit for Hell, but the Heaven’s Maker has already written your names in the Book of Life.
It’s not about—who you are, what you have. It’s about the Christ in you. You may be real skinny like me; fat, stout, uneducated, poor…It doesn’t matter at all! The mockers will mock you—it’s their job; your job is to spread the gospel—you do your job. Their words may hurt you like stones; they may put you down—maybe Stephen would have gone on his knees like this (bends down). But, God says rise up! Let’s show the world: It’s not about going to church on a Sunday morning; we don’t come here to warm the church seats. It’s about living in Christ every day; we carry our cross on our back every day. Man, we do this every day. Lastly, through this character of Martyr Stephen, I would like to charge you all that it’s time we stand up for Christ and it’s time we become UNAFRAID and UNASHAMED for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Amen. Thank you.”
Jeez…I made it. ♫ Because I’m happy… ♫ That was amazing for a guy like me. And why would not I thank Him. I did what I had to do. Wow!