All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel. (Acts 6:15)
COMMENTS ARE OFTEN MADE about someone’s countenance. Perhaps you look like you are at peace today. Maybe you have what someone else describes as “honest eyes.” We pick up the story of the first Christian martyr, and the Bible says he had “the face of an angel.” False witnesses had twisted his teaching to make it sound like heresy, but Stephen was not alarmed. He didn’t scowl. His face didn’t turn beet red. We are simply told that Stephen’s face looked like that of an angel. Imagine that. In a very tense situation a grown man’s face was described as angelic.
How could he respond this way? Shouldn’t he have been vehemently defending himself? Perhaps Stephen knew there was a greater cause than winning every argument. Maybe he was looking forward to heaven and how awesome it would be someday. Perhaps he looked as calm and as happy as an angel because Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. Whatever it was, we find ourselves staring into the angelic face of the first soon-to-be martyr for Christ.
The story develops around the fact that Stephen would correctly teach about God living in the place God himself had made. God could not be contained in a building. God is also not threatened by false witnesses. Moreover, God and His followers are ultimately not afraid of transferring from this life to the next. Picture Stephen. Visualize a man with a peaceful glow on his face because he knew who God was. See a confident man who knew what he believed. Observe a calm man who knew where he was headed in eternity.
Assess what you look like, inside and out, when trouble comes your way.
Jim Dunn is the executive director of Church Multiplication and Discipleship for The Wesleyan Church. He resides with his family in the Indianapolis area.