Stephen and the Mob
May 9, 2020
A Reflection on Acts 7: 55 – 60
Stephen’s rise to leadership begins much earlier in Acts. “Choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.” The Twelve are so busy tending the needs of widows and orphans and distributing food, the ministry of the word is being neglected. They choose Stephen and six others and lay hands on them to go and preach the word. And the gospel spreads rapidly.
There is unrest among the people. Economic disparity, mis-treatment of the most vulnerable populations and growing ideological and social “camps” are stressing the people. Sharing equally in the community of goods is problematic to some. (Wasn’t this written in the paper this morning?)
And there is one other new and annoying thing raising eyebrows. Stephen is bringing life and hope to a people outside the Temple. Stephen is a charismatic leader who, like Jesus, threatens the status quo. The opposition voices fear the change that will come in Stephen’s leadership. Change and fear of losing power stir angst and anger against Stephen and a mob is born.
Interesting that the mob against Stephen is like the mob against Jesus who end up shouting, “Crucify him. Crucify him.” Seems that mobs forget reason and civility and the seeking of mutual ideals just to get their own way. “Where have all the good guys gone? Long time passing. When will they ever learn? When will they ever learn?” Thank you PPM for an eternal question: When will we ever learn?
Mobs are roaming downtown Raleigh this week. Para-military units loaded with weapons and hate symbols protest a government that is working to balance public health and the economy. Never mind that. Mob mentality has no room for hearing both sides. It’s my way or the highway. If the virus doesn’t keep us in, fear of protesters with assault weapons surely will. Seems a little like defeating their own purpose.
In New Hanover County, Wilmington area, just two hours from here, a mob gathered on the front porch of a young Black high school senior demanding entrance to his home for questioning about girl who was missing. The officer present jammed his foot in the door so that the young man could not close it against the mob. Then someone noticed the sign in the young man’s front yard. It had his picture on it and a big "Congratulations, Senior!" Someone realized they were intimidating the wrong Black man. And someone else called the police.
Life is going to change in lots of ways as we live and die our way through this pandemic. And there are huge swaths of life that need to change if we will ever be healed. Racism has to be called out as the evil it is. Hate needs to be shunned and hate groups need to be shamed into non-existence. We don’t need more martyrs like Stephen. We need strong, ordinary people who will stand up to the pot-stirrers and hate-mongers and say, not on my watch.