Today’s Reading: Acts 7-8
Today’s Reflection: Acts 8:26-31
26) Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. 27) And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28) and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29) And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 30) So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31) And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
In this section of the book of acts, titled “Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch”, the apostle meets the foreign dignitary and the two engage in a conversation about scripture, quite a remarkable turn of events for several reasons relevant to us today:
1) The Eunoch, though not a Jew, knew and worshipped the God of Israel. There was nothing in his background that would have suggested (to most Jews at least) that this person would have any knowledge of God (most Pharisees would likely not have considered the Queen of Sheeba’s visit to Solomon, an event that likely spread the story of the God of Israel throughout Africa). The common assumptions about such a man would have been quite wrong.
In my own experience, I’ve met people from a variety of lifestyle, cultural and religious backgrounds who had very sophisticated knowledge about God and Christianity. Had I assumed ignorance on their part I could have easily offended them, missed a chance to witness to them, or even missed the chance to learn something from them.
2) The Ethiopian Eunuch, an official directly connected to the queen of the then powerful African nation, and was in charge of all of their treasure. He was an incredibly influential man, and he put a high priority on worshiping God, having taken a very long journey to visit the temple in Jerusalem.
How often do we assume the wealthy or powerful care little or nothing about God, except in a superficial or self-serving way? This story reminds us that even the most powerful people have a hunger for things that only God can satisfy.
3) Lastly, the Eunoch was struggling to understand the passage from Isaiah he had been reading. Philip was able to explain it to him, because he had been sent and because he obeyed the Holy Spirit. Their meeting was no coincidence; it has been arranged by God Himself.
The Great Gospel Commission we have received is to go to all the world, teaching people to observe what Jesus has taught us (Matthew 28:19-20). Go and teach. So why do so many of our churches look more like ‘sit and wait’ places? We at most invite people to come to our church, and wait for the day they accept and finally come (if they ever do), hoping that experience will transform them. But is that what we’ve been asked to do? What if God is calling for us to go out, just as He did with Philip here, and with Paul, Peter and others throughout the days of the early church? To intercept people going about their daily lives who were seeking truth in various ways, but who like the Eunoch needed someone to guide them? Are we spending too much time at church, and not enough being the church?