By Quentin Mumphery
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.
All of these things 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 we provide light in darkness when we are wrestling with these sobering realities? How is the church, the body of Christ, supposed to provide light and leadership in the midst of darkness and unprecedented uncertainty?
As the church tries to discern the path to the future, I would submit the key to the future lies in our past. This is not the first time 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 it 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 caused the saints to scatter. The church at Jerusalem was the first church, but it was composed exclusively of Jewish believers. The believers scattered, but they didn’t cower in fear. Rather, in Acts 8:4, Scripture tells us they went preaching the Word everywhere. This scattering fulfilled Jesus’ Great Commission to go and preach the gospel and make disciples.
Had it not been for the persecution, there may not have been a scattering!
2. AUTHENTIC EXPRESSIONS
As the saints scattered and preached the Word, Acts 8:6-12 demonstrates that authentic expressions of the Holy Spirit followed. This second key was illustrated by Philip, who preached the gospel powerfully, worked miracles, signs, and wonders, cast out demons, and saw many people healed.
Once again, the Holy Spirit moved in undeniable ways. The power of the Holy Spirit is what will convict and convince us 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 excellent 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 empowered the early church.We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit—the same power that raised Christ from the dead and empowered the early church. Click To Tweet
3. DIVINE DIRECTIVES
Later in Acts, Philip received a “divine directive” when he was instructed by the Holy Spirit to go in a specific direction, along a certain road. As Philip went, he encountered an Ethiopian eunuch with whom he shared the gospel.
Timing is everything. Delayed obedience can equate to disobedience. What if Philip had delayed in following the Holy Spirit’s directive?
In this season, 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 Jesus’ followers to introduce men and women to the One for whom they search.
4. QUICK CONVERSIONS
Finally, in this account, we witness the Ethiopian’s quick conversion. The man heard the gospel, responded, and was baptized. The Ethiopian didn’t engage in weeks of conversation with Philip; he was ready on the spot. The Ethiopian had already been searching; the power of God was present, and the Holy Spirit immediately moved his heart.
I pray that those who are searching for answers, such as this Ethiopian was, will encounter modern-day Philips—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.
As we venture further into these uncharted waters, may God give us the courage of the early church and an authentic dependency upon the Holy Spirit to fulfill God’s mission in the earth. God has the keys.
Quentin Mumphery is the founding and lead pastor of New Hope Covenant Church in Chicago. This essay is adapted from a blog post at NewThing’s website; we are sharing it here with their permission.
Amen! and a breath of fresh air drink of new wine.
This is moving in so many different places that are picking up the ideals of the restoration movement
Without the baggage of divided denominational is I’m or liberalism or any other ism other than Jesus as king
[In the] right place at the tight time, Philip was empowered by the Holy Spirit to respond to the self-question of the Ethiopian eunuch and show how Jesus fulfilled the prophecy. In current times, how do we, the church—and me particularly—take off our masks and respond to the whisper from the lost world? People today have the same needs as the lost people who found Jesus in the first-century church—needs such as: unconditional acceptance, food, shelter, and clothing. [People also must] become aware that God breathed his Spirit into you so that you might seek him and give him praise and honor. My natural man avoids making relationships with people who I consider to be “different” from me, and therefore, my witness to them is less than it should be. My prayer is that my faith will overcome my unbelief, and that when the call to witness to anyone is given, I will proclaim that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God!