Penned at 35,000′, while en route to Philadelphia, for the Herald Society Conference.
“Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:35).
The story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch begins with an angel of the Lord telling Philip to head south to the main road, between Jerusalem and Gaza. Philip obeyed.
Arriving at the road, the Holy Spirit directed Philip to the chariot of a man utterly different from himself–someone Philip would likely never seek out with the intent of developing a relationship. Philip didn’t argue with God the Holy Spirit. “Are you sure? This doesn’t feel right. I’m not settled in my spirit. I must be misinterpreting what You’re telling me. I feel like I’m seeking a convert to Christ instead of a person I can disciple. I must be thinking in the flesh. Whew! That was close. I almost shoved Jesus down that person’s throat.”
No. Philip didn’t hesitate. He didn’t quival; he didn’t come up with any sinful, evangelical excuses in an attempt to avoid evangelism. He ran. Philip ran and caught up with the chariot. He had one thing on his mind: evangelism. Philip was going to tell the man, his social opposite, the good news about Jesus.
Many Christians fraudulently fancy themselves as being so in tune with the Holy Spirit that they expect God to send them an angel with specific marching orders, followed by the Holy Spirit audibly telling them (or impressing upon their hearts), “That one over there. Go talk to that one.” Today’s Christian, unlike Philip, has the completed canon of Scripture at his finger tips, with all of the evangelistic commands and motivation he needs to engage in evangelism, for a lifetime.
Today, many Christians use the Holy Spirit as a sinful excuse for not sharing the gospel with the lost. They say, “I wait for the Spirit to lead me.” Sadly, the “spirit” most Christians follow in evangelism–their own spirit, or another spirit, but not the Holy Spirit–rarely, if ever, directs them to proclaim the gospel. And, with the effectiveness and attractiveness of putting lipstick on a pig, they try to hide their sin of depraved indifference; they try to convince others that they are obedient to the Holy Spirit when they aren’t, and that they feel compassion for the spiritual plight of the lost when they don’t.
Yes, it’s true. Philip was served the proverbial, slow, high-arcing softball pitch over the heart of the plate. He could have closed his eyes and still whacked the ball to the deepest part of the field. But don’t let the immediate context of the story serve as yet another excuse for disobedience. It’s so very rare to come across someone reading the Bible, just waiting for someone to come along and explain it to them, ready to here the truth. However, the rarity of Philip’s kind of evangelistic encounter does not free the Christian from the responsibility of always being ready, willing, and able to go, stand (or sit), and speak.
And speak is what Philip did. He opened his mouth. He told the Ethiopian Eunuch the good news about Jesus. He taught the man–the man with whom he had nothing in common–from the Scriptures, about Jesus.
“Come on, Tony. Philip was one of the seven original deacons. He was sent out as an evangelist. I mean, really? He had four daughters who were prophetess, for crying out loud!”
None of these arguments made of straw, none of these chaff-filled objections remove the Christian from his obligation to love God and to love his neighbor (everyone) by opening his mouth and telling lost people the good news about Jesus.
Dear Christian: open-your mouth. You’ve waited too long. How much longer will you go on trying to lie to God and to yourself by claiming a level of spiritual maturity your mouth betrays as inadequate? How much longer, brother? How much longer, sister? How much longer will you wear the mask of spiritual hubris to hide your depraved indifference?
Dear Christian: open your mouth! Yes, open your mouth–not with shocked silence and stunned amazement at the words you are reading, here. Open your mouth so that words can come out. Tell somebody. Tell everybody the good news about Jesus. Be the Lord’s mouthpiece, his ambassador, his herald. Love Him, more. Love people, more. Open your mouth.