It began with insults, then shouts of condemnation. The mass in one accord rushed him…
Then came the rocks. The first hit only his arm, but hurt none the less. Then a second, and a third, and these turned into what seemed an endless flow of bruising blows, until finally he could no longer keep his footing. He fell to the ground where he died.
Standing behind the crowd, a young man looked on with approval. Satisfied the world was a better place without this menace, he considered how to further the elimination of all those who thought as this one did. His train of thought was broken by an utterance from the man on the ground, what was his dying breath. What he thought he heard he quickly dismissed as just noises from the crowd.
Many years later this now aged man found himself in the course of writing a letter. His friends needed these words. They needed to know what he had learned. He told them, “Bless those who persecute you.” He emphasized the urgency of these words, “When people do you wrong… retaliate with love!”
He removed his pen from the page, sat upright, and wiped the flowing tears from his eyes. The scene returned as it always did. Only, he no longer attributed the words to the crowd. As long as his Lord chose to leave him on this earth, he would ever hear Stephen’s prayer to Jesus, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” (Romans 12 & Acts 7)
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Jesus said to all those who will follow Him, “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matthew 5:44). If the world will once again be turned upside down for Christ, we must get this right. We must remember that while we were eagerly His enemies, He laid down His life for us.