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The Witness of Philip

(Acts 8:4-8, 26-35)

Lesson 6 -- second quarter 2001
April 8, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Scattered but not frightened!

I have long been troubled by the notion that God's fearless, bold, brave, courageous people should be scattered by persecution. After all, if they are indeed fearless, bold, brave and courageous (besides being God's people), why should they run away from persecution? It has seemed obvious to me that if they allowed persecution to scatter them, then they must have not been fearless, bold, brave and courageous.

Now I see the matter differently, thanks to Acts 8:4: "Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word." I see in this verse that there are times when God leads His people to scatter in the face of persecution, and times when He leads them to stand and suffer and perhaps die. I also see in this verse that these who were scattered did not do so with paralyzing fear. These folks were bold despite the persecution. Wherever they went, they continued doing that which brought persecution upon them in the first place: They preached the Word!

"We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed" (2 Corinthians 4:8,9). Praise God! Only because of Him can this be true!

Shall we pick and choose our mission field?

"Hold it a wee bit, Lord. First it was here to Samaria, a sure place to tarnish my reputation for spiritual, moral and social purity. But at least it's a city...and things have turned out quite well. Now you want me to go to some road in the desert?! Now my reputation for wisdom, prudence and mental stability will go up in smoke! Do I have to go to that mission field?"

I know, Philip didn't say that and neither would we. Even so, I think such imaginary thinking could reveal some attitudes we might have when it comes to certain areas of mission work. I suspect we each have countries or situations we don't want to get involved in as missionaries. God forbid, we might even wish to not witness to certain people or cultures.

As God's sent ones, let us never forget that the faithful messenger always goes where the Message Giver directs. The duty we have as messengers is to faithfully and joyfully deliver His message wherever He sends us. Our wishes and preferences yield to His. Furthermore, I believe that in obedience to Him we will find our wishes and preferences changed to match His.

So, my friend, do not balk at His bidding, do not chafe at His choices, do not anguish over His assignments. Do as He says and ask Him to change your attitudes and hang ups. Yield yourself as a conduit of His love to those to whom He sends you.

Go where the needy ones are, not where they should be.

If I were looking for a seeker, I would not head off for some remote desert road nor would I go to some place where the people are deep into their own religion. To expect to find spiritual seekers there has a way of defying logic. It is too easy to surrender to the mentality that says, "The real seekers will look until they find me. Then I can help them. The real seekers will know they need to get out of certain environments before my type will be able to help them." That is wrong! Jesus came to seek and save the lost...right where they were lost.

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