Filled with the Holy Spirit, [Stephen] gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. 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. While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 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. ~ Acts 7:55-60
Stephen is the first martyr of the Christian faith.
But he follows a long line of prophets who also often died for speaking the truth.
We don't tend to like prophets. We don't like when someone says something that is counter to long held beliefs, or to ways that threaten our power or security.
We don't like to be challenged and confronted with things that might prove us in the wrong. And more often than not, truth tellers suffer for the truths they tell.
So how do we know a truth teller vs. someone claiming to tell the truth?
Stephen gives a clue. Although this isn't his whole speech, Stephen laid out clearly who Christ was. He traced back to all that God had done in the past leading to the moment where Jesus came.
And more than that - he loved. He forgave.
Yes, he called out the sinfulness of those who murdered Jesus and who threatened him.
But his last words were words of forgiveness. "Lord, do not hold this sin against him."
There are a lot of voices claiming to tell the truth these days. So how do we know who is telling the truth?
Are they speaking FOR the powerful? Are they trying to hold on to the power they have?
Or are the speaking for the vulnerable? Are the speaking the truth about God's care for the world? Are they looking to share the power they have with those who have none?
Who are the truth-tellers?
Lord, help me to discern those voices who are speaking your truth in love. Amen