The Importance of One

The book of Acts is primarily about the ministries of two men: Peter and Paul.  However, from time to time, Luke tells us about other people or other events which were of such importance that they ought to be included in the history of the early Church.

One such instance of this is Stephen.  We are told of Stephen in Acts 6 that he was chosen as one of the first deacons.  Then Luke goes on to tell us of Stephen becoming the first martyr of the Christian church.

ethiopian_eunuch2In Acts 8, we are told of another man who was previously introduced as one of the original deacons—Philip.  Luke tells us that Philip, driven out of Jerusalem by the outbreak of persecution that erupted after Stephen’s death, “went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ” (8:5).  Luke also records one conversion in particular, that of an Ethiopian eunuch.  Philip, led by God’s Spirit, leaves the city of Samaria to go to the road between Jerusalem and Gaza.  There Philip leads this inquisitive African to faith in Christ by explaining to him the meaning of Isaiah 53.  After that, Philip is whisked away to Azotus, where he begins preaching in every town he comes to until he finally makes his way to Caesarea.  The dizzying account of Philip’s activity reminds me of a Denzel Washington movie title: “Man on Fire.” 

Now it would be easy to read over this passage and miss its great significance.  Luke is telling us of Philip’s important role in fulfilling what Jesus had said to His disciples, that they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and even in the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8).  And in telling of this first purely Gentile convert to faith in Christ, Luke is also pointing out that through the ministry of this one man, Philip, the course of history shifted.

Think of it.  One man, faithful to obey God’s calling.  One man willing to submit completely to the leading of God’s Spirit.  Just one man.  And the world has never been the same since.

Then think of the ripple effect this must have had.  This eunuch is a prominent man, in charge of Queen Candace’s treasury.  He is a man of some influence.  Is it purely coincidental that the history of the early Church focuses not just on what we call “the Middle East,” but on Africa?  Is the Coptic Church not plausible when it claims its origins from this one conversion?  Have we never considered that such luminary patristics as Tertullian and Augustine were Africans?

Then consider this.  While certain people, like this Ethiopian official, have wide spheres of influence, in truth every person influences other people.  In other words, the conversion of a prominent person and the conversion of the relatively obscure person vary in their historical impact only by degree.

So, who has God brought into your life and a relationship, with whom you might sit down and say, “Have I ever told you why I place all my hope in Jesus?”  Who knows—that conversation just might change the course of human history.

Dwight L. Moody is reported to have said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with and for and through and in and by the man who is fully and wholly consecrated to Him.  By God’s grace, I intend to be that that man.” How different would the Church be in our generation if more of us were thus committed.

Father, fan the flames of love for You and for people created in your image, that I may be like Philip a man on fire for You.

gkr1996 posted at 2009-10-26 Category: Theological