More Than Just A Cook

8 Now Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power, performed great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Opposition arose, however, from members of the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called) – Jews of Cyrene and Alexandria as well as the provinces of Cilicia and Asia – who began to argue with Stephen. 10 But they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke. 11 Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We have heard Stephen speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12 So they stirred up the people and the elders and the teachers of the law. They seized Stephen and brought him before the Sanhedrin. 13 They produced false witnesses, who testified, “This fellow never stops speaking against this holy place and against the law. 14 For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us.” 15 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 6:8-15)
One of the most famous movie posters of the 1990s was for the movie Under Siege, in which Steven Seagal plays a cook on a ship that is hijacked by terrorists. They have no idea that he is a retired US Navy Seal who used to specialise in taking out terrorists and that he has forgotten none of his former skills. The movie poster carried a picture of Steven Seagal and carried a simple tagline: “He is more than just a cook.”
 
That could be the tagline for the sixth chapter of Acts as well. Stephen is one of the seven deacons who are appointed in Acts 6:1-7 to wait on tables, feeding the poor within the church in Jerusalem. We might therefore have expected the rest of Acts 6 to describe his exploits in the kitchen – his prowess with a chopping knife, the recipes he used and the difference that he made to the lives of the people that he fed. Instead, we discover that he was more than just a cook. He was “a man full of grace and power” who was always on the lookout for an opportunity to partner with God in declaring and demonstrating the Good News of Jesus to those around him. He convinced people that he had a message that was worth listening to by performing “great signs and wonders among the people”. When he had captured their attention, he explained the source of his supernatural power. He informed them that Jesus is the Son of God and that, through his life, death and resurrection, heaven’s power has broken out on the earth. This won him many enemies but “they could not stand up against the wisdom the Spirit gave him as he spoke.” Everyone could tell that Stephen was like an angel – a powerful messenger of the Living God.

All of this poses a big question to us, which seems more relevant than ever as we move out of lockdown and begin to regather back together. Have we pigeon-holed ourselves as something less than God intends for us to be? You see, there is nothing wrong with being a cook. Stephen’s day job was to feed the poor and hungry – it could hardly have been more important! – but he refused to allow one area of ministry, even a really important one, to distract him from the greatest ministry of all – declaring and demonstrating the Good News that Jesus is God’s Son and that he has come to save us.

What are your own skills? What are the ways in which the Lord uses you in your day-to-day life throughout the week? Well done – those skills really matter him – but don’t let your great skills distract you from an even greater calling.

How are you serving at Everyday Church? Are you a Life Group leader, a sound technician, a children’s worker, a songwords operator, or a band member? That is brilliant – we so need your skills on all those teams! – but the Lord wants to encourage you further through today’s devotion. He warns you not to pigeon-hole yourself in that ministry, vital though it is. He wants to remind you that you are like Steven Seagal. You are more than just a cook!
1)   How were you serving at church before lockdown hit? Will you continue to serve in that same team or will you join another team? Have you connected back with your team leaders yet?

2)   How was God using you in your day-to-day life before lockdown hit? Do you still feel faith to serve him in that same way? How can the return from lockdown be a recommissioning moment for you?

3)   How can those excellent ways of serving God become a distraction from the even more vital work of proclaiming and proving that the Gospel is true? What does it mean for you to be ‘more than just a cook’?
Father God, I thank you that you have given me a specific calling. I thank you for the areas in which I get to serve you in my day-to-day and I thank you also for the areas in which I get to serve within my church family. I give myself to you afresh to serve you wholeheartedly in those areas, and I also give myself to you more generally. Lord, use me whichever way you choose. Like Stephen, I want to be more than just a cook for you. Amen.
Today’s Everyday Devotions were brought to you by Phil Moore, who leads our team of whole-church elders.

If you have time, consider carrying on your conversation with God using one of our helpful Prayer Pathways.

Today’s Everyday Devotions have also inspired a devotional video that you can watch on our YouTube channel.