Stephen is recognized as the first Christian martyr.
Although my painting only shows one person stoning Stephen, there were in fact a whole mob of people engaged in the murder. I chose to show only one individual doing the stoning because he is symbolic -- personifying the anger of the mob.
The composition is divided into two parts distinguished by their contrasting colors: the warm, brighter section and the cool, darker portion.
These two parts represent the two parts of the human personality -- the good and the evil.
Stephen is shown facing the source of the light. The person who is about to throw down a large stone upon him stands in the shadows, shrouded in darkness.
I believe the message is clear – Stephen is looking toward the truth with arms raised in praise. He has turned his back on the angry murderer who is depicted standing in the darkness of ignorance and prejudice. Stephen represents life; the murderer is death. The message is one of turning away from expressions of hate and anger and facing that which is life-giving and life-enhancing.
The verses in the sixth chapter of Acts explain how those in the synagogue spread lies about Stephen in order to incite the anger of the mob against him. This causes me to wonder if perhaps anger almost always has its root in untruths -- either untruths told to us by others or untruths we tell ourselves.
One of the things that makes most of us angry is being treated in a disrespectful and demeaning way. In that situation, the untruth that incites our anger is the belief that a person's disrespectful and demeaning words and/or actions toward us will actually make us worthless as a person. That is just not true.
If anger is born out of untruths, then the solution is to keep our eyes fixed upon what is true.
Do you agree?
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