We are living in unprecedented times. A global pandemic forced us to re-envision life as we know it. Centuries-old racial tension forced this nation to wrestle with its original sin. Economic uncertainty. Businesses shuttering. Political polarization. Quarantining. Social Distancing.
This created a “perfect storm”. The Church has not been exempt from the volatility and uncertainty, yet the Church is called to be a beacon of light and hope. A city upon a hill.
But, how do you provide light in darkness, when you are wrestling with a set of sobering realities? What is the Church, the Body of Christ, supposed to do to provide light and leadership in the midst of darkness and unprecedented uncertainty?
As the Church is trying to discern the path to the future, I would submit that the key to the future lies in our past. This is not the first time that the Church has faced uncertainty and been forced to minister in a world fraught with volatility. In Acts 8, the Church dealt with challenges, but was able to venture into a future that brought tremendous glory to God through four vital keys
1. Scattered Saints
In Acts 8, the Church entered a season of volatility and persecution that led to the first key, Scattered Saints. The Church at Jerusalem was the first Church, but it was composed exclusively Jewish believers. The believers scattered, but they didn’t cower in fear. Rather, in Acts 8:4, the scriptures tell us that they went preaching the Word everywhere. This scattering fulfilled the commission given by Jesus, to go and preach the Gospel, making disciples. Had it not been for the persecution, there may not have been a scattering!
2. Authentic Expressions
As the saints were scattered and preached the word, Acts 8:6-12 demonstrates that there were Authentic Expressions of the Holy Spirit that followed. This second key is illustrated by the example of Phillip who preached the Gospel powerfully, worked miracles, signs and wonders, cast demons out, and saw many people healed.
Once again, we need to see the power of the Holy Spirit move in undeniable ways. The power of the Holy Spirit is what will convict and convince in this season. We can’t rely on great music – people have access to the best concerts, artists, bands, and venues. We can’t rely on excellency of speech – the internet gives access to a myriad of oratorical masterpieces. We can’t rely on nice facilities – most buildings are sitting empty at the moment. We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit – the same power that raised Christ from the dead and that empowered the early Church.
3. Divine Directives
The third key is Divine Directives. Later in Acts, Phillip is instructed by the Holy Spirit to go in a specific direction, along a certain road. As Phillip went, he encountered an Ethiopian eunuch and Phillip shared the Gospel.
Timing is everything. Delayed obedience can equate to disobedience. What if Phillip had delayed in following the directive of the Holy Spirit? This is a season wherein the Holy Spirit will be issuing directives. There are men and women like this eunuch who are searching for answers. God has set the stage, and the time is right for a Jesus-follower to introduce men and women to the one they are searching for.
4. Quick Conversions
The final key is Quick Conversions. We witness this through the account of the Ethiopian eunuch. The eunuch heard the gospel, responded, and was baptized. The eunuch didn’t have to engage in weeks of conversation with Phillip, he was ready on the spot. The eunuch had already been searching, the power of God was present and the Holy Spirit was moving upon his heart.
It is my prayer that those who are searching for answers as this eunuch was, would come into contact with modern-day Phillips, men and women who are ready for God to use them to share the hope of the Gospel with those who are hurting, broken, vulnerable, and searching.