Joining the early church was no light endeavor! Easy believism was not a concept that permeated those congregations! There was persecution from without. And the death of Ananias and Sapphira clearly revealed the high and holy standard from within. Neither kept people from flocking to the church though. They came for healing--and received miracles. Scripture says the masses 'magnified' the church. What they saw in the early church, drew them just as Jesus drew folks in His time on earth. Oh, for our churches today to draw people!
Another encouraging thing: conflicts preceded church growth. A bit of internal grumbling handled well resulted in church growth. Authority delegated properly strengthens the Kingdom! Then there was the jailing of the disciples. That brought divine intervention and created a good bit of attention! Stephen, accused of ushering in change (and other things), responded like Christ. Dying as a martyr, Stephen marks the launching of intense persecution and the spreading of the gospel throughout the land! So let's take heart when hard times come: God is about to reveal something big He's already been working on!
And then there was Acts 7. Have you read it lately? What a great panoramic view of the His Story! Deliverers like Joseph, Moses and David reveal God's perseverance and purpose. God wants captives free and makes provisions for that to happen. Jesus is the ultimate Deliverer! But again and again, we humans turn our hearts toward idols. Or we create a beautiful box to place God in--like Solomon's Temple. God does not want us in a box and He doesn't intend to live in one either!
Freedom IS worshipping the One who created us, loves us and redeems us. When, like Stephen, we lay out His Story with our very lives, we see the Father and the Son. Great things come when we release our lives to the Freedom Giver.