The growth and expansion of the Church is never tied to our comfort. The first expansion of the church in Acts came in a time of persecution. Philip found himself in Samaria (Acts 8) as a result of the persecution in Jerusalem. But persecution wasn’t a reason to quit. They kept proclaiming.
Philip was one of the “minor” characters of the Acts story that show those who make the way. He preaches to Samaritans, which were despised by “real” Jews. Revival breaks out. Then, he finds himself on an empty road while a coach makes its way toward him. There he encounters a true Gentile and preaches the gospel.
Two things out of Acts 8 stand out to me:
1. We have no idea about persecution in the Western Church. None. Zero.
We have people who don’t like us. We have people who disagree with us and might call us bigots. We have some rules and laws that make sharing faith difficult at times… maybe. But persecuted? No. And we have no idea.
Ideologies are shifting rapidly. Christian beliefs are being marginalized quickly, at a faster rate than I anticipated (although I did sense this shift about 11-12 years ago). But persecuted? We don’t know it. Will we? Maybe. But right now? Let’s not kid ourselves.
2. Philip is a great example of simply joining what God is doing.
Philip DID know persecution, and he kept right on proclaiming the gospel. Wherever he landed, he found God already at work. We sometimes have an erroneous belief that “God comes with us” in a way that really says, “I’m here, so NOW God is here, and aren’t you glad I showed up so good things can NOW happen?”
Let’s understand that we carry the presence of God, but God doesn’t “show up” when WE show up. What we need to see is that when we arrive at a place we will find God already at work. Us being in a particular spot is already an indication that God was at work before we got there.
Check the egos at the door, folks.
We are NOT persecuted… and we are not the great hope of the world…
Let’s join what God is already doing. Even if that road is tough and possibly lonely.