God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.
In our last post from the book of Acts we looked at how Philip loved people different than himself. (If you’re interested, you can learn more here: The Meaning of Life and Loving People Different than Me–Acts 8:27-30) In today’s post we’ll see how God gives Philip one of the easiest opportunities ever given to someone who desires to bring people to Christ. (Full disclosure: I have no special gifting in the area of evangelism, so, as is usually the case, I’m writing to myself as much as I am to anyone.)
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. 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 and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. Now the passage of the Scripture that he was reading was this:
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he opens not his mouth.
In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom, I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he preached the gospel to all the towns until he came to Caesarea. (Acts 8:26-40)
5 Reasons God Made it Easy for Philip
So in our text we see how saving the Ethiopian eunuch’s soul was one of the easiest things ever. Below you’ll find five reasons why God made it so easy for Philiip.
1. Philip was surrounded: It all starts, back in Acts chapter 2, with who Philip surrounded himself with. He surrounded himself with people doing the work of God and studying the doctrine of the apostles and living out Jesus’ command to love one another. Whenever you surround yourself with such people, good things tend to happen. (Acts 2:42-47)
2. Philip looked at ministering as an opportunity: Philip didn’t look at ministering as an interruption. He was enthusiastic for this opportunity. He wanted to share Jesus with the Samaritans and he wanted to share Christ with the Ethiopian eunuch too. When God told Philip to connect with the Ethiopian Eunuch, Philip didn’t walk to him, he ran to him. He wanted to share Christ with people. He wanted to share Jesus with anyone who would listen. Philip was enthusiastic about having Jesus as his Lord and King, and he wanted others to experience the goodness of Christ the way he had.
3. Philip was available: When God wanted him to share Christ with the Samaritans for who knows how long, he shared Jesus with the Samaritans for however many days or weeks. He didn’t say, “That sounds really great! But this isn’t a good time, I just have too much on my calendar right now: I have to be in Corinth by Tuesday. Is there a way I could just make a small donation to the cause?” Instead he just dove in and engaged the Samaritans by helping them with healings and by sharing with them about Jesus. And then, even in the middle of all the great work he was doing in Samaria, he was available to God when God changed his direction. In verse 26 God said, “Rise and go . . .” and then in verse 27 we see that Philip “rose and went.” He went to the desert place, even though he didn’t know why he was going to the desert place. And after Philip arrived there, he didn’t become distracted, he remained available, and he responded to God’s calling him to connect with the Ethiopian eunuch.
4. Philip Began with a Question: Questions might be one of the most underutilized means of connecting with someone in a positive personal way. Questions, when asked in the right way, communicate an interest in the person you’re engaging. In our passage, during that time in that area, when people read, they often read out loud. So Philip hears him reading from Isaiah and he asks: Do you understand what you’re reading? And the Ethiopian Eunuch answered, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to join him in his chariot and explain who Isaiah was prophesying about.
We find another example of someone starting a conversation with a question while John was experiencing the vision in Revelation. An angel addressed him and asked a question, the angel said, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” And John said to him, “Sir, you know.” And then the angel explained they were “the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
One of my favorite people on the planet is an atheist friend of mine. Last summer we were riding our bikes up Mount Ashland together and during the climb I asked my friend to share with me why he believed God didn’t exist. I had already committed to asking him this question with the sole purpose of understanding his thought process, and without offering any of my own opinions or thoughts on the subject. So for two hours he shared his thoughts with me and I just listened, sometimes asking clarifying questions. We’ve had conversations about God before but I can tell you, although he didn’t receive Christ that day, that was by far the most fruitful conversation I ever had with him.
5. Philip was full of the Holy Spirit: Philip was filled with the Holy Spirit and when we’re filled with the Holy Spirit and led by the Holy Spirit, God gives us softballs. And the opportunity with the Ethiopian eunuch was the biggest softball ever. The Ethiopian eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53 which is one of the most stunningly accurate amazing beautiful prophecies about Jesus ever written. So it was the easiest thing ever for Philip to explain who the writer was referring to in Isaiah. And then to top it off, the eunuch asks Philip to baptize him into the faith.
You know, you can do things to engender the Holy Spirit filling you. The first three items in our list increase your chances of experiencing the Holy Spirit the way Philip did. When you’re intentional about surrounding yourself with people who love Jesus and others and are doing His work, you’re improving your odds. When you’re enthusiastic about Jesus, you’re improving your odds. When you include margin in your schedule so you can make yourself available to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, you’re improving your odds. When you do the things Philip did, you improve your odds of receiving the Holy Spirit the way Philip did.
You Can’t Steer a Parked Car
You can’t steer a parked car. You have to climb into the car, turn on the ignition, and start moving before you can steer it toward a destination. That can feel risky sometimes. Maybe, when it comes to doing things for Jesus, you feel like the men with the talents. There was risk involved when they received those talents from their master. The servant with five talents took the risk and he invested those five talents. The servant with two talents did the same. And they both heard the words from their master,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
But the person with one talent played it safe, and although he avoided the anxiety that comes with taking a risk, in the end, he experienced darkness and weeping. (Matthew 25:14-30)
So what I’m saying is, it’s wise to try things for Jesus. Philip tried serving as a deacon, and he tried sharing Christ with the Samaritans, and he tried hanging out on the road in the desert, and he tried explaining about Jesus to the Ethiopian eunuch, and he tried sharing the gospel with the people of Azotus. Things happen when we try. So try different churches until you find one filled with people who love Jesus with everything they have and who love people well. Try different ministries. Try things for Christ.
Sure we’ll fail sometimes.
But sometimes we won’t fail.
Sometimes we’ll do good things for Jesus and we’ll be in the company of those who hear the words from God,
“Well done, good and faithful servant.”
I want to hear those words. I hope you do too.
“Father, please have mercy on me and on the dear person reading this right now for those times when we’ve played it safe. Surround us with people who love You with everything they have and who love people the way Jesus loved people. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and faith to take risks for You. Inspire us to try things for You. Bless us with opportunities to invest our time, energy, and material resources into the good work of Your kingdom.
“It’s in Jesus’ name we ask these things of You Father.