The Vision of Stephen: A Lesson in Courage
After Jesus’ death, the apostles chose seven men to assist them in the work of running the church and teaching the gospel. One of these seven was Stephen, a man with a strong reputation for loving and following God. He, with the others, were set apart to their new role through the laying on of hands, which means the apostles placed their hands on Stephen’s head, gave him a blessing from God, and conveyed the authority from God to do his work.
Stephen quickly encountered difficulties. He was falsely accused of blasphemy and brought before a council of Jewish high priests. They may have been surprised, as they leveled their accusations, to see that Stephen was transfigured. He had the face of an angel.
They had no intention of finding Stephen innocent of the trumped-up charges. However, Stephen maintained his courage and preached to them concerning the blessings God had given the people and the sins of his accusers. The listeners were angry but Stephen was accompanied by the Holy Spirit. He said:
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God. (Acts 7)
This was something the people did not want to hear. They didn’t want to cope with his vision so they came after him. They forced him out of the city and then stoned him. He died calling upon God.
Stephen was rewarded with his vision because he was steadfast and fearless in bearing witness of Jesus.
Enduring to the end
Choosing to be a follower of Jesus Christ is seldom easy, particularly if one chooses to be vocal about one’s beliefs. When we take the Savior’s name on ourselves, we agree to share His light with others, even when there are consequences.
Few of us will be asked to die for our faith, as Stephen was, but we will be asked to live for our faith, and sometimes that is harder. It is the day to day challenges that can make life seem more challenging and test our courage. However, those challenges build our faith and tell us the depth of our commitment to eternal things.