A new film is coming out Friday in theaters entitled “Brave.” My granddaughter Esther Ruth can’t wait to see it and her recent trip to Disney caused her curiosity to peak as she waits for opening day. Of course, with all the advertisements, previews, posters, and media attention it makes me want to see it too. To see someone break out of the mold of “just getting by” which is kind of the going thing in the kingdom at that time is refreshing to me. Going with the status quo has become the battle cry of many in the faith family and the thought of bucking that status quo causes fear to resonate in the hearts of many. Not the lead character in the movie “Brave.” She knows her purpose in life is much larger than what she is expected to do and the drive in her heart causes her to upset one apple cart after another. But, she never quits believing. The meaning of the word “Brave” is a person who is ready to face danger and pain. To be able to be brave means you have to know your purpose in life. There is an inner strength that demands results from the life we are living to the point of risking it all for what we believe in.
There is an account in Acts 7:54-60 of a man by the name of Stephen. Stephen was a very strong witness for Christ, to the point of telling the religious leaders of the day the “pure uncut truth.” He had a force driving him to tell all he met about the wonderful hope found in Christ. One such group he shared with were not happy with what he was telling them and they ended up in a great big argument. The group that rose up against him was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen. These men were Jews who were descendants of men freed from slavery. It would seem they would be sensitive to the message of freedom that Stephen was sharing, but the opposite was true. Their argument with Stephen took a very ominous turn when they could not stand up to the wisdom and the Spirit in which Stephen was speaking. So they did what we see done again and again in our world. They stirred up a group of people and dragged Stephen before the Council, brought in false witnesses and started their attempt to silence him and the Gospel. Everything was against Stephen, including the religious leaders of the day and he just sat there looking totally at peace, like an angel. But what he did next is the point of this blog. When asked to explain why he believed what he did, instead of backing away and recanting, he stood up and told the truth. He was BRAVE!! He told them their entire religious history and then indicted their actions against those preaching Jesus and the Messiah Himself. The words cut their hearts and they were in total disarray, and then it happens….. Stephen looks up and says, “I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” That was it. That was the straw that broke those camel’s backs and they cried out loudly to drown Stephen out and rushed him out and stoned him. His bravery did not go unnoticed. His message and his life were not in vain. His sacrifice was not without impact. Why? Because they laid their robes, while they stoned him, at the feet of Saul. Saul who? Saul who became Paul and became a vibrant witness for Jesus Christ and the person responsible for bringing the Gospel to people like you and me. What did Saul see as Stephen’s life was slipping away? Her heard Stephen say, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” and “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Then Stephen fell asleep. The impact of the Holy Spirit seen in Stephen’s life started a process that ended in the salvation of Saul and the change in the course of his life.
What was the stand of Stephen called? “Brave!” Who knows where the next brave stand for Christ will happen, and who knows the effect it will have on those who see and hear it. Who knows what the impact is of those who aren’t brave in the faith. Who fall to criticism, apathy, and fear. One thing we know for sure from the story of Stephen. His bravery in the faith and the presence of the Holy Spirit in his life made an enormous impact on the present and our future. Maybe you are a Prince or a Princess, you know “A child of the King”, and you are wanting a confirmation to take a stand, or be brave. Just open up God’s Word and you will see confirmation after confirmation saying, “Stand up and be Brave for the Gospel.” Child, youth, or adult. It doesn’t really matter, because it is in the heart where we find true Bravery, and that is where it grows. BE BRAVE!! You are on the movie screen of life and people are watching…
The Pilgrimage continues….