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Click here to read Acts 7 on BibleGateway.com

straw“That’s the last straw.” Have you ever wondered what the last straw really is? Like, for example, when one is hypothetically eating a couple dozen cookies, there comes a point when one knows “hmm…this was a mistake.” But at what point did that happen? Was it the 6th cookie? or the 13th? How would you know?  There’s a time when your kids are fighting that you cross over from “ok guys, time to stop.” to “ok, now I have a hankering for some spankering.”  What is the point when those little tushies cross the line into spatula targets?

In today’s chapter, we find out the last straw for many non-believers.  Stephen, a leader in the early church, is giving a quick history lesson to the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem.  He tells them how God has protected and guided the Jewish people through their history, and how great their country was in the past.  Then he drops the hammer: they are just like the “bad guys” of the past, attacking and betraying God’s prophets.

THE LAST STRAW

Notice that the Jewish leaders may get mad at Stephen when he rebukes them, but he doesn’t actually sign his own death warrant until he brings Jesus into it. Though they can’t have been real excited about him comparing them to the worst of their ancestors (not to mention the ultimate insult: “stiffneck”), they seem content to just be angry with him. But when he says he sees Jesus standing in heaven next to God, then they scream, cover their ears (la la la, i can’t hear you), and drag him outside to stone him.  What’s the difference? Why is it suddenly a stoneable offense?

In a word: Jesus.  People are generally ok with us talking about God. You can have debates about creation and evolution, comparing religions, or taking “In god we trust” off of money, and people can generally remain fairly calm. But once Jesus comes into the picture, specifically that He is Lord (that is to say, that we must submit our wills to his), then you will find people suddenly get very aggressive. Everybody likes to pray “God bless America,” but you don’t hear “Jesus, take my life” quite as often. Why is that?

LORD OR NOTHING

Notice that Stephen doesn’t just claim that Jesus is a great teacher, that He is a prophet, or even the Messiah.  He sees Jesus “at the right hand of God,” ruling with complete authority.  The idea of Jesus as a moral teacher is pretty popular these days, but Jesus didn’t come to be a teacher.  He came to be a sacrifice, to be a King.  Can we accept that? Or is that the last straw for us as well? Is it too much to give Jesus complete control of our lives? Would we rather just pick and choose the good teachings (at least the ones we agree with).

Are you willing to talk about Jesus today? Not about your “religion,” your “faith,” not about your “beliefs”, not even about “God,” but about Jesus as the Lord of your life. Will you stop considering your dreams and desires, and talk about giving up your desires to serve Christ?  Can you approach life like James: “If it is the Lord’s will…”

Are you willing to give up your rights, and maybe your life, to see Jesus at the right hand of God?

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