I was re-reading the account of Stephen and his magnificent message to the unbelieving Jews (Acts 7). Now he did not make any friends with his speech. I mean, calling people, “stubborn and stiff-necked people, heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears, resisting the Holy Spirit,” is not the way to make friends and influence people. No, when the people heard that, they became infuriated and shook their fists at him in rage, probably threw their shoes at him and stomped their feet.
However, the Scripture says,
“Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:55-56).
I started thinking about how great it would be to be so full of the Holy Spirit, with my eyes so fixed on the Man in glory, that I could be so at peace in that kind of situation. Oh, I don’t want to deliberately offend people, but I also don’t want the Lord to accuse me of compromising my message.
But in the case of Stephen, look at the hopeless condition he was in. He was surrounded by religious madness, superstition, prejudice, and jealousy. The angry crowd pressed in on him, wild-eyed and bloodthirsty, and death loomed just ahead of him. It was an impossible situation! But then (00h I love that phrase), But then, looking up into heaven, he saw his Lord in glory, and suddenly his rejection here on earth meant nothing to him. Now he was above it all, seeing the one who is invisible.
Just one glimpse of the Lord’s glory, one vision of his precious holiness, and Stephen could no longer be hurt. The stones and the angry yelling and screaming were all harmless to him because of the joy that was set before him. One glimpse of Christ’s glory places you above all your circumstances. Keeping your eyes on Christ, consciously reaching out to him every waking hour provides a peace and serenity as nothing else can — as Paul wrote, a peace that is beyond understanding.
As Paul explained it, “All of us, as with unveiled face, because we continued to behold in the Word of God as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord Who is the Spirit” (II Corinthians 3:18). That’s what happened. Stephen caught the rays of the glorified Man in Heaven and reflected them to a Christ-rejecting society.
The Truth is we become what we behold. The proper translation should read, “We all, with open face mirroring the glory, are changed!” The idea is that the Christian reflects, like a mirror, the glory of what he gazes at continually. We are the ones “in the glass” — a mirror — looking on Christ, the object of our affection and becoming like him in the process of beholding. The glances at us and see Him reflecting.
When the enemy comes in and troubling circumstances get us down, we need to both amaze and condemn the world around us by our sweet, rest in Christ. Since we see by our spiritual mind, this is accomplished by keeping our minds fixated on Christ. This is something we do. We focus our attention. We determine what we are fixated on.
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