Summary: We can all be evangelists.
“Meet the Ethiopian Convert”
Rev. Ken Sauer,
Pastor of Parkview UMC,
Newport News, VA
Philip was one of the seven deacons chosen to assist the apostles in their work.
The deacons were given the responsibility of overlooking the daily distribution of food to the ever-increasing number of new disciples of Jesus Christ.
Another one of these deacons was Stephen who broke the mold of the deacon and become an evangelist as well.
Stephen was also the first Christian who was murdered for his faith.
And after the stoning of Stephen, the early church was scattered throughout Judea and Samaria and we are told that “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.”
Philip first went down to “a city in Samaria and proclaimed Christ there.”
Now Jews and Samaritans shared a mutual contempt for one another, but Philip knew that the Gospel of Jesus Christ knows no bounds.
So Philip, guided by the Holy Spirit, preached to the Samaritans; and many accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior there.
We are told in Acts 8:5 that due to Philip’s proclaiming of the Gospel: “there was great joy in that city.”
And this is what God brings to those who hear and accept the Gospel and to those who gladly share it: He brings great joy!!!
Because the Gospel is what it means.
It is good news indeed!
And we all need a bit of good news in this often difficult and defeatist life.
We all need the hope that only faith in Jesus Christ can bring!!!
We all need the new life that salvation through faith in Christ does bring!!!
So both those who bring the good news to other people and the people who accept this good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior experience great joy!!!
Don’t you want to experience great joy?
Don’t you want others to experience great joy as well?
If there is one thing that can aptly describe our world, our community, our nation…it’s that so many of us seem to be joyless.
We become so caught up by things that we can never change and we come to realize that the things we are hanging our hats on…the things we are depending on to bring us joy…only bring us frustration and anxiety.
Many of us worship youth!
By that I mean we live for trying to make ourselves look and feel as young as we can.
The problem with this is obvious.
We are all headed in the same direction fast.
We will all get old and die.
There is no getting around it!
So living to stay young and physically beautiful is a real exercise in futility.
It is bound to drain anyone of joy!
So many of us also live for making money and collecting stuff.
But we can never have enough. We can never make enough.
And so this also leads to a very self-centered and hollow life.
What’s the point?
Remember the old bumper sticker: “Whoever dies with the most stuff—wins!!!”
Again. What is the point? We can’t take it with us.
And this life is so short and fleeting.
Money can only buy us so much!
It cannot buy us ultimate fulfillment, true joy and real peace!
If all we have at the end of the day is our money…with death looming large on the horizon…how can we possibly sing with all the Christian saints down through the ages to today: “It is well, it is well, it is well with my soul!”?
So Philip, who was not some professional evangelist, by any means, faithfully proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in a city in Samaria and this Good News fills the city with “great joy.”
Philip was not a professional evangelist.
Philip’s job as deacon was to wait on tables, and yet God was able to use Philip in mighty ways!!!
How many of us here this morning would consider ourselves professional evangelists or experts in evangelism?
Raise your hand if you feel that you fill this description.
Nonetheless, God is able to use any one of us to bring great joy to our community…to our neighborhoods…to our schools…to our workplaces…
…and this is what God desires to use us for…
…and in bringing joy to others we ourselves will experience greater joy than we could have ever imagined possible!!!
In our Gospel Lesson that Virginia read earlier Jesus tells us: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a [person] remains in me and I in him or her, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing…This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”