The thing I want to point out this morning is from the lesson in Acts. Notice the story arc and some of the details: the story begins in lamentation and scattering, progresses to preaching the word and preaching Christ, culminating in great joy in the city and great amazement from even among the greatest men of Samaria. The pattern is death and resurrection. Stephen dies and the Church mourns and scatters, and then the Word is preached and the Church grows and multiplies and rejoices: death and resurrection.
What is the lesson? It is by the very act of seeking to destroy and silence the Christians that the message goes far and wide. And though persecution causes pain and sorrow, this ultimately results in conversions, great joy, and amazement.
You are not likely to face this kind of persecution today. You are not likely to be dragged to prison for believing in Jesus today, though there are Christians in other countries who do face this very real danger. But you will most likely face opportunities to be faithful to Jesus, to stand up for the truth, to not go along with the crowd. We are comfort creatures, and we tend to avoid all discomfort, all awkwardness at all costs. But to avoid the discomfort is to avoid the path to resurrection, the path to great joy and amazement.
I dare you to take a risk. Tell the truth. Be the Jesus-nerd. Don’t care what your friends think. Seek first the Kingdom of God no matter the popularity. Share the gospel with somebody on the street, your neighbor, your coworker. Be willing to be misunderstood, misjudged. Serve quietly. Sacrifice gladly. Love an enemy. Be scattered. Be forgotten. Be ignored. Be hated. And then cheerfully wait for resurrection. Talk about Jesus, point to Jesus, and wait for the joy, wait for the amazement.