A scary Halloween story

Yesterday was Halloween, and we decided to go ahead and talk about scary things at the Sanctuary church service. Today I thought I would post the "scary Halloween story" I read in church. Here's the background...

The point of the scary story is to clarify what is scary and what is not. In Acts 6-7, Stephen is put on trial and brutally killed by an angry mob. There are forces that oppose the cause of Christ, and those forces are very powerful. But we are not scared of those forces. Do the apostles seem scared of the world? No. Does Stephen seem scared, even when he knows he is about to lose his life? Miraculously, the closer he gets to death, the more full of peace he seems to become.

God leads the church and each of us into places that are uncomfortable. But we need not be scared of God. He is the supreme good, and anything he asks of us will only be for the betterment of us and our broken world.

The world is not scary, and neither is God. You know what is scary? When we Christians insist on being comfortable and decide not to risk for the cause of Christ. It is scary when God's people shy away from participating in God's mission to save and transform the world. Comfort is scary, because it lulls us to sleep and tempts us to forget God. That is scary!

Based on that theology of what is scary, here is my Scary Halloween Story. It is a revision of the story of Stephen, done up postmodern American style...

Now Stephen, a man full of God's grace and power, did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue where Stephen and his family worshiped. Stephen’s friends urged him to be sensible and stop causing trouble. Not wanting to jeopardize his standing in the synagogue, Stephen agreed to “tone down” his pro-Jesus rhetoric.

Still, Stephen’s enemies spread false rumors about him. They accused him of speaking against the temple and downplaying the sacred law of Moses. They convinced the high priest to have Stephen arrested. This greatly troubled Stephen, and on his way to be questioned by the high priest, he devised a strategy to deliver him safely out of this mess.

As they began his court hearing, the high priest asked him, “Are these charges true?” Stephen replied, “Brothers and fathers, I have spoken boldly in the synagogue about Jesus of Nazareth. I can see that I have offended others and you. I deeply regret that my teachings have expressed intolerance toward those who reject Jesus. I see Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. You see Jesus as a heretic. This court proceeding has reminded me that your interpretation of Jesus is just as valid as mine, and I respect your viewpoint. From now on, if I talk about Jesus publicly, I will allow room for other, equally valid points of view.”

The Sanhedrin, seeing that Stephen would not continue to cause trouble, warned him and let him go. Stephen went on to become a respected member of the synagogue. When persecution started against the church, Stephen held a moderate position and avoided trouble. He became a successful merchant in Jerusalem and lived to a ripe old age. He retired with wealth and in his later years, he enjoyed a life of leisure.

·         Seeing so many people who still needed to be saved from their brokenness, God went looking for someone else to speak for him. He allowed Stephen to enjoy life and be comfortable, but God grieved over what he could have done through Stephen. 


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