This Sunday we’ll be starting a short series to follow up on our study of the Gospel of Mark. When Mark finished, we were left with an open-ended command: Go and tell. Simple enough…but not that easy to carry out. We’re in a time and culture that isn’t all that open to historic Christianity; often seeing it as a primitive and phobic worldview. Some of that perception is our own fault, I fear.
No matter if there’s blame to be placed, we are still left with this high calling of following Jesus from that empty tomb into the world where he is now loose and bringing life. How do we join in with his work in a world like ours?
We’re going to look at an example from the early church this Sunday of how one person was going and telling the Good News. We’ll be reading Acts 8:26-39 this Sunday, which is the account of Philip sharing the Good News with the Ethiopian Eunuch. There is so much that is intentionally unusual in this passage, and I think we need to take a close look at it.
When you read through the text – what is it that causes Philip to head out towards the desert? How easy or hard is it for you to follow those inward nudges of the Holy Spirit to change your immediate course or do something for reasons that aren’t very apparent? How can we be more open to those types of Spirit-inspired events?
The person Philip is directed to is from a gentile, pagan nation. He’s an official which means he’s steeped in the culture’s religion. He’s also a eunuch – someone who no longer functions, in the normative sense, sexually. He seems to be a seeker, or perhaps a proselyte. He’s coming back from Jerusalem, but he wouldn’t have been allowed to worship at the temple because of his condition.
Take some time to think about this man and try to think of what people in our modern world would fit into the categories he represents. How did Philip begin his interaction with this man? What can we learn from that?
What can we learn about advancing the kingdom of God from Philip’s experience? In what ways will we need to look past the outsider status of people in our world to share the hope of Christ with them?
I suspect this will be a challenging study – hope to see you there!