Week 5 – The People of God in a Strange Land
Acts 8:9-24 Conversion of Simon Magus
Acts 8:26-40 Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch
As we’ve noted many times before, the people of God spend a lot of time waiting for the arrival of the Messiah. They don’t always wait patiently, and they often wait with desperation. In the waiting, they reach out for signs and people sent by God. Sometimes they embrace the right thing, and sometimes they don’t. That’s not too different from today. We know of the theological differences and challenges that come into being when we go to Samaria. It is interesting to see the contrast to how the people hear from Philip versus how they hear from Simon Magus. It’s at the end of the story that we see the difference between Philip (and the other disciples) and Simon Magus. The Spirit can’t be bought for silver, and there is a noticeable difference between what God does through us and what we do ourselves.
Next Philip is on the road. Again there’s an encounter with someone familiar with the faith, from reading the text, and again, there’s something different that happens in an encounter with a disciple. Philip isn’t really a big name disciple. What happens when disciples go into places where people have only heard of the faith we have? How is it that we (if we’re disciples) show up in the world in a way that convinces the world we are not charlatans, but are instead messengers and disciples of the living God?