It was last Sunday during a discussion on Acts 8 that a friend of ours commented on how simple things can be and yet how complicated we make it – faith-wise.
At the end of the chapter we encounter the Ethiopian official going home after worshipping at Jerusalem. He was sitting in his chariot, struggling to understand a passage in Isaiah. God teams him up with Philip. He told the Ethiopian the good news about Jesus.
“As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptized?”
I think there are more than a few church ministers who would be thinking in terms of come kind of commitment course for a few weeks, or a Bible foundation class, or an Alpha course…something where they could evaluate whether the response to the gospel was genuine. We complicate it all – even though we may be acting in all sincerity. The Ethiopian became God’s responsibility, not Philip’s.
I was thinking about my tendency to complicate things this morning. I had been reading n from Acts 8 during the week and had come to the end of chapter 10, with Peter and Cornelius.
In v26 Peter says, “You know…” How did they know? How did Peter know that they knew?
The events that had happened with Jesus in Judea and Galilee had happened in another country. It is amazing how what happens in our country may not really make the news elsewhere. Apparently England might know all the details of a football match against Germany that they lost decades ago, but the Germans are more concerned about a match they played against Holland in the same tournament! What mattered to Peter in Judea, that had been personally life changing for him, might not have stirred anyone else a couple of hundred miles away.
My initial reaction was to assume the Peter was operating in the gift of discernment. He personally didn’t know what Cornelius knew, but it was revealed to him by the Spirit. I think I even started praying that I would pursue, more zealously the gifts of the Spirit, at which point I think God guffawed in heaven, and His throne room shook with divine mirth!
“Mel,” He said patiently, “Just how long did it take Peter to travel from where he was to where Cornelius was?”
“A day?” was my reply, not quite sure where the conversation was heading.
“And who was he traveling with? Cornelius’ servants, right? What do you supposed they talked about? They had a whole day of traveling in front of them. I would imagine that Peter asked as many questions as he could to find out what he was walking into. So when he said, “You know…” he knew what they knew because he had made it his business to find out what they knew. He knew because he had asked.”
Some things may be hidden from us and, perhaps then, we need to operate in the gift of discernment. Most times asking and answering will do it!
Keep it simple!