He got up and set out. (Acts 8:27)
Hearing about Philip’s immediate response to the Spirit, some of us will think, “Yes! Philip has the secret—just do it!” Others may squirm uncomfortably, thinking, “I’m not one to take leaps of faith.”
That’s no surprise—God made us all different! You might have childhood memories of hesitating nervously at the edge of a swimming pool, or you might have been one of the kids dive-bombing in! And so you may experience different responses to Pope Francis’ encouragement to be an evangelist: excitement, trepidation, or a mix of the two. At the root of our call, however, there are some things worth remembering.
First, God wants everyone. In New Testament times, Ethiopians were the embodiment of different. Not just their skin color, but their culture and their distance from Jerusalem led Jews to view them with suspicion. But the Holy Spirit turned that thinking on its head by calling an Ethiopian to the Church right from the beginning.
Second, God wants the good news to spread. The Spirit directed Philip to a fellow heading home to Ethiopia not only so that this man would experience the love of his Father but also so that he could go on to become an evangelist and bring the gospel to his home country. The news about Jesus needs to keep spreading today, whether it’s across oceans or across the street.
Third, God’s timing is impeccable. This isn’t always as clear to us as it is in today’s story, but God sends us where we need to be, at the time we need to be there, for the purposes of his kingdom. Philip saw an opportunity, and he ran with it (if you’ll pardon the pun).
This third truth is vital. Without it, the first two can lead to either overzealous evangelization or extreme guilt for not measuring up. Are you struggling to muster the courage to strike up a conversation about faith with someone? Relax! God will open the door at just the right moment. In the meantime, just keep praying and keep guarding your peace. God will give you the opportunity in his good time.
“Lord, thank you for the example of your servants in the Bible. Help me to rely on your grace as I try to share your good news.”
Psalm 66:8-9, 16-17, 20