A New Way Forward?
ACTS IN 90 DAYS
A reading for Thursday, May 28, 2020: Acts 6:8-15.
"They stirred up the people as well as the elders and the scribes;
then they suddenly confronted him, seized him, and brought him before the council."
The challenge we face a a Christian community, in every age, is to stay together in the midst of conflict. From the beginning, as with the example of Stephen in today's reading, there are always challenges when faithful men and women disagree.
Stephen was a powerful leader, "full of grace and power" says the scripture. Yet, some argued with Stephen. It seems it was a disagreement over the way of Jesus being in opposition to the way of Moses. Perhaps this is one of the early signs that Jews and followers of Jesus would differ and ultimately split from one another.
Theological splits still happen today. All matter of other things divide faith communities too, and the challenge is always how to disagree and stay together. In today's lesson, at least in the opinion of the writer Luke, those that opposed Stephen took matters into their own hands and had him arrested. We wonder what might have happened if Stephen and those in opposition had been able to work through the issues listening for a new way forward? What might faith look like today?
Conflict among the faithful is to be expected as a norm and not necessarily a sign that something is wrong. It might just be the Spirit of God searching for a new way forward for God's people. Our opportunity is in how we choose to handle conflict. Do we take matters into our own hands as those did in hauling Stephen before the council? Or can we work through sometimes uncomfortable issues, relying on the Spirit of God to make a new way?
The mercy of God is the promise that wherever two or three are gathered, there Jesus is among them... in every moment, even the difficult ones. Thanks be to God!