Acts 6 and 7 tell the story of Stephen. The Bible says that he was full of the Holy Spirit. It also says that he was full of grace and power and was performing great wonders and signs among the people. Wow! That sounds awesome doesn't it? If you really want to be used by God, you look at the beginning of Stephen's story and his description and say to yourself, "He was awesome, I want to be like him." Then comes the rest of the story.
Stephen was being used by God so much that he stood out and hacked some people off (it was probably jealousy). Then it got worse for Stephen when they tried to argue with him because he spoke with so much Spirit-filled wisdom. So his opponents made up charges against him and brought him before the High Priest and he ended up being executed by stoning as the first Christian martyr.
I don't think this jives with our idea of 21st century American Christianity. I think that most of us believe the prosperity gospel. We say with our mouths that we don't believe it, but with our thoughts and attitudes, we do. We think that if God is really with somebody that bad things just won't happen to them. We think that if we have lots of crazy circumstances in our lives and lots of stress, then God must not care about us.
Our idea of Christianity is completely backwards of what Jesus and the Bible teach. Jesus said that this story of Stephen would be the norm if we really lived for Him. He said that people would hate us if we took on His name and followed after Him radically. Why do we act so down when things go wrong for us. It ought to be a sign that God is probably with us and the devil is after us and that we are right where we are supposed to be.
Where did we ever get this idea that we could be a "good Christian" and everything would always be well with us. We need a revolution in our "Christian" thinking! We need to follow Jesus above all else and let the chips fall where they may. We need to learn to really trust in Him and let go of all our ideas for our lives. We might get rich and live a long time or we might be poor and die a martyrs death in a foreign land. Only God know the plans that He has for us. Let's not pretend that we know that we are supposed to be the ones who live rich and long and lets just trust in Him. I know its much easier said than done, but at least, let's strive to change our thinking about what we "deserve". Let's follow Jesus and leave the rest up to Him.
"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33