“On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem …” Acts 8:1
Paul the apostle, prior to his conversion, was one of the most dangerous kinds of people in society, a religious fundamentalist, fanatic who believed his severe acts of hostility against the church were bringing honour to God. He had just approved of the killing of Stephen, the first Christian martyr, when the first wave of persecution broke out over the church. Nothing much has changed. Today the world is still full of many religious fanatics who are callously determined to extinguish the light of the gospel wherever it shines purposefully into a troubled society. Jan Gouws from Open Doors confirms, “Today, around the world, there are over 100 million Christians who are persecuted because of their faith in Jesus Christ.” Although these statistics might sound staggering God continues to do His profound work of drawing people to Himself in the middle of global conflict and the strenuous struggles of the human soul. In stark contrast to the hardheartedness of Paul another man, whose heart was soft towards God and open to His voice responded differently, “Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, ‘Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza,” Acts 8:26. Philip had a few seemingly legitimate reasons for questioning this instruction …
- He had a successful fruitful ministry among the Samaritans – why bother?
- Who wants to follow the desert road with its potential robbery risks and loneliness – why bother?
- He did not know this yet, but why leave the multitudes for one lost individual soul – why bother?
This individual lost soul was the Ethiopian (now northern Sudan) eunuch on his way home, a Jewish convert, a person of high influence being the national treasurer to queen Candice. The queen ruled on behalf of her son who was deified at a young age as a child of the “son god” and was therefore too holy for secular leadership. The eunuch was clearly a seeker after the Truth because on the way home while sitting on his chariot, instead of reading the latest best seller, was reading from the book of Isaiah, but not understanding who he was reading about yet. There are millions of people like that in the world today aren’t there, people with university degrees, intelligent people who have not yet understood why they exist on planet earth. That’s why we should bother about mission. That’s why we should bother about mission especially to the persecuted and unreached.
Phillip’s obedience to the Holy Spirit’s promptings that day resulted in something absolutely stupendous, “As they travelled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?”And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him … but (the eunuch) went on his way rejoicing,” Acts 8:36-39. That’s why we should bother with mission, for the sake of the lost being found, those who have not understood yet finding understanding, so that they may come to full faith in Jesus Christ expressed through baptism and going away rejoicing!
Prayer: Father, forgive us for not bothering about mission. Convict and prompt us by your Holy Spirit to respond in obedience, so that those seekers you have prepared for the gospel may hear, understand and be baptized. Take some time to pray for the persecuted and the lost.