It’s a famous line, isn’t it? “If you build it and they will come.” The “it” was a baseball pitch in the middle of a maze field. The “them” were past heroes of baseball turning up to make good a lost chance for a young man. And it wasn’t a “they” anyway, but a “him” – a father that Kevin Costner’s character had too little chance to build a relationship with.
We were not quite in “Field of Dreams” mode yesterday in our Aglow meeting but we came close - Create a place for God and He will come. Perhaps God was checking I had got the message when I read these verses from Acts this morning.
“Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:30-31)
Let’s start with the Ethiopian eunuch. How did he create a space for God to come? In this day and age when people travel anywhere, it’s usually a mobile phone that holds their attention. I doubt that they are reading a Bible app. More likely they are scrolling through Facebook catching up with what is happening, or not, in the lives of their friends.
The eunuch created a space for God to come by reading the word. He wasn’t just reading the pages for information sake. He wanted to understand what he was reading. His heart, not just his mind, was engaged. The trouble was this wasn’t a train with Philip sitting in the next carriage. The man and his chariot were on an empty desert road. And Philip, at that moment wasn’t in sight.
Now, let’s move on to Philip. How did he create a space for God to come? In this day and age, it is hard to walk away from a successful project. Philip had travelled down to Samaria.
“When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralysed or lame were healed. So there was great joy in that city.” (Acts 8:6-8)
There had been an incident with Simon the Sorcerer, but
that was sorted. The church in the city was alive and vibrant and God called
him away from it. Philip created that space for God by holding that church
ministry in a light hand. He didn’t call it his own work or claim ownership of
it. It wasn’t his space but God’s. In fact, his whole life wasn’t his any
longer, but God’s. There was no argument or negotiation. He went. I think part
of it was the knowledge that whatever was waiting, wherever he was going, was
better than what he was leaving behind. Leaving the good to take hold of the
better is alway part of God's plan. Philip’s desire to serve God created a space for God to
come. I should be aspiring to be a Philip. To be trusted with such a task – I feel
like Donkey in Shrek movie bouncing up and down and saying, “Pick me! Pick me!”.Hopefully I get picked for the task not because I am the only one to volunteer, but because I am the best person for the task.
When the Ethiopian eunuch was reading the book of Isaiah, he did not have the Holy Spirit indwelling, teaching him the scriptures. The Holy Spirit brings me to the word and reveals to me all that God would have me know. The state of my appetite is the only thing that governs how much I learn. But there are also people around me, people who know the word better than I do. Knowing and understanding God’s word is crucial. We need to use all of the aids that are available to us.
We need to know the word for our own growth and flourishing, but also for other people and the questions they ask. By searching the scriptures and seeking to understand what is written there we become a potential Philip to someone else’s Ethiopian eunuch. We create space for God to use us to meet needs. It’s not enough to have the answers but not be near people to listen to the questions they are asking. We also need to be humble enough to know where our own personal knowledge ends and start asking questions ourselves.
I want to be in the word, reading, seeking to understand it and learning how to apply it to my life. I must never stop being a learner, but I must also never shy away from being a teacher. I should be adding to what I know. Like the Ethiopian eunuch there must be a “Tell me, please” mindset. There must also be a “Philip…told him” willingness to teach. I have been placed in this particular Church-family both to learn and to teach. I learned from one wonderful lady that while I am aching to get it right, I must not forget that I am God’s child and revel in the knowledge that I am loved fully by God. Getting it right doesn’t always happen, but God never withdraws His love. And what I have I taught? A deep respect and love for God’s word is what transforms. There is, what the teaching world labels, a hidden curriculum - how you say something as much as what you say, how you respond to a host of happenings. People are harvesting a message through their senses.
I am a leaner.
I am a teacher.
I am creating a place for God to come. And He comes