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Monday, May 08, 2017

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Stephen speaks of what he sees and knows of God. He directs others to fix their gaze upon Jesus as well. Those who hear his testimony respond with violent outrage. While pointing others towards God, Stephen's life is required of him. His response is not one of desperate self-preservation, but rather he draws even closer to his Lord, echoing Jesus' words from the cross, "Father, forgive them. They don't know what they are doing."

The response to our own testimonies about the God we have known and seen may also sometimes invoke violent and aggressive responses. Our words, our characters and even our very lives may come under vicious attack. Jesus invites us to pick up our crosses and follow after him. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German pastor and theologian, reminds us that such an invitation is to "come and die." As we face mortal threats will we draw near to Jesus and pray for mercy and forgiveness for the ones who wish us ill? This isn't the way of the world. It is the way of the cross.

God do not hold our sins against us or against others when we threaten one another out of our fear and sinful smallness. Amen.

Karl Hester, '01
Pastor, Christ the Good Shepherd Lutheran, Salem, Ore.

Acts 7:55-60 (NRSV)

55 But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
56 "Look," he said, "I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!"
57 But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.
58 Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
59 While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
60 Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." When he had said this, he died.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.