Monthly Archives: October 2015

The Vibe of Stephen

When the Disciples hear the vibe that the local Jewish converts are getting treated better than the Greek ones, they decide to pick seven trustworthy and honourable Greek speakers to make sure the love is shared around more fairly. These men are responsible for the practical administration and running of the fledgling church while the Disciples get on with the business of spreading the news about Jesus. One of these pillars of the community, or deacons, as they become known, is Stephen. Unashamed to speak his mind about Jesus, Stephen begins to get some Jewish backs up and before long, some phony claims that he has been badmouthing both Moses and God see him brought up before the supreme council of the Jews in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin. Once in front of the Sanhedrin, Stephen launches into a sermon that pretty much tracks the story of the Jews from Abraham to Solomon and ends with an angry tirade where the Jews are accused of consistently failing to recognise a prophet when one is staring them in the face. When Stephen accuses the gathered Jewish elite of murdering the Messiah, the Sanhedrin erupts in fury. Undeterred, Stephen looks up to the heavens where he claims to see Jesus standing at the right hand of God. This is too much for the Jews and they drag Stephen out of the city where they throw rocks at him until he is dead. A fanatical young Jew called Saul is asked to mind peoples’ coats while they are busy stoning Stephen but, fortunately for Christianity, Saul later becomes one of the strongest advocates for the vibe of Jesus, changes his name to Paul and almost single-handedly jump starts the churches that many of us are familiar with today.

General vibe of Stephen: Faithful and fearless

Factvibe: Stephen is the first Christian martyr.

It may have killed Stephen, but it couldn't kill the vibe.

It may have killed Stephen, but it couldn’t kill the vibe.


The Vibe of Sin

Not to be muddled with Original Sin, sin is basically any vibe that disappoints God. Sadly for humans we can’t help acting in a way that falls short of the ideal set by Jesus. And this isn’t just the big stuff – robbing, stealing or running off with our neighbour’s wife – the vibe of sin is that the devil quite literally is in the detail. Gossiping tongues, potty mouths, wondering minds (and hands), game playing and selfish behaviour all get rolled up in one big bundle called sin. Tightwads? Greedyguts? Bossyboots? They all go in. There’s no escaping the stuff, it’s all around us and, so the Bible tells us, all inside us too. We are riddled with the stuff. In fact the very reason God sends Jesus is to show people what life looks like without the involvement of sin. Even that isn’t enough, we as people are almost too hardwired to doing wrong for there to be any hope for us. And just at the point when it looks like the whole thing is about to go beyond the point of no return, Jesus announces that anyone who believes in him and who is genuinely sorry for the trouble they’ve caused can have their slate wiped clean. Not only that, there is no end to the number of times this slate cleaning can happen. The vibe gets better – Jesus is still there with his soapy bucket and mop nearly two millennia after his official death. This act of being sorry for our sins is called repentance and the transaction where Jesus makes everything right again is called forgiveness. The vibe of sin appears to be with us for the long haul but so, thankfully, is the vibe of Jesus. A sin/win situation.

General vibe of sin: the bad that we think, say and do.

Factvibe: Many Christians hold to the democratic belief that all sins are equally bad

A red velvet cupcake - actually not in and of itself sinful.

A red velvet cupcake – actually not in and of itself sinful.


The Vibe of the Seven Deadly Sins

Despite popular opinion, the Seven Deadly Sins don’t actually feature in the Bible, at least not in a neat checklist. A couple of them feature in the Ten Commandments, a few appear as nuggets of wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and Paul reels off a list that contains a lot more than seven. Not only that, the list has changed over time, rather like a top 40, hit parade vibe. As anyone who has watched the movie Seven will know, the current ‘Top 7’ are: wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. Not to be confused with the Mortal Sins which lead the offender straight to Hell, Roman Catholics believe that the Seven Deadly Sins are starter sins, or in other words, sins that might, if left untreated, lead to Mortal Sins and an everlasting toasting in the company of Satan. Having compiled their list of Seven Deadly Sins, the meticulous Catholics also appointed a demon to each sin but, happily, for each deadly sin there is a Heavenly Virtue which can at least act as something positive for people to aim for. Over the centuries the Seven Deadly Sins have provided inspiration for artists, painters and film makers and are one of the most popular Bible vibes that aren’t actually in the Bible.

General vibe of Seven Deadly Sins: Don’t do any of these

Factvibe. The current list was pulled together by Pope Gregory in 590AD.

Gluttony - one of the Seven Deadly Sins on a Christian's 'not to do' list

Gluttony – one of the Seven Deadly Sins on a Christian’s ‘not to do’ list