6:12 And they stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; and they came upon him, seized him, and brought him to the council. 13 They also set up false witnesses who said, “This man does not cease to speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses delivered to us.” 15 And all who sat in the council, looking steadfastly at him, saw his face as the face of an angel.
Some days I feel like I have been a pastor forever. It actually won't be that long before it's been more than half my life. If I include my internship it already has been more than half. However no matter how long I continue to serve in this capacity or walk this earth I will never forget the first profound lesson I learned as a pastor: not all adults are grownups. It happened at a board meeting. For the sake of those involved I won't give any details but a man who at the time was nearly three times my age had a full blown temper tantrum in front of the whole board. It was quite shocking actually. In hindsight it was quite obvious what he was doing. He was trying to get everyone stirred up to do what he wanted. Guess what? It worked...
The Bible tells us a few men from a particular synagogue who were non locals, what we would today call immigrants, didn't like Stephen. We are not told why. It is clear they wanted to control him and/or the church in some way but Stephen saw through it and they couldn't argue or persuade around his wisdom. Angry that they couldn't get their way they start spreading rumours.
The thing is when a few people are disgruntled it's manageable. They don't have the numbers to take control and they know it. So what do they do? They use subtle slander to get the masses to turn on Stephen too. The Bible says they "stirred up the people".
Sadly stirring people up sometimes isn't that hard. Here is what I want us to think about. Should followers of Jesus ever be stirred up? Think about what stirred up means? Think about your thoughts and emotions being spun in a blender. It's confusing and unsettling and nothing makes sense. One day Stephen is highly respected and the next day his character is on the chopping block and the next day he is trotted out as public enemy number one.
Decisions of any magnitude should never be made in these conditions. You wouldn't build a house during a tornado so why would you build conclusions about someone during a storm of emotions and conflicting information? Trace history back to the beginning and you'll find one disgruntled angel stirring up the other angels in an effort to discredit and slander God. In one out of three angels he succeeded.
The next time you feel stirred up and you can see a mob mentality forming check yourself. Take a step back. Chances are you are being manipulated to take part in something dark that you would never do if you were thinking clearly and/or had all the facts. A storm of emotions is no time to make impacting decisions or draw conclusions about others.
We are followers of Jesus and He was always calm in the storms. Follow Him.