As i was studying for the message I gave this week entitled Bridges to the Kingdom, I was struck by the imagery that the passage created. In Acts 8:26-40, we see an interaction between Philip and an Ethiopian eunuch. Philip has a divine encounter with the Ethiopian as he is reading the scroll of Isaiah. Their conversation really struck me. It reads:
 So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”  And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. (Acts 8:30-31)
I loved that the Ethiopian states the he is looking for a guide. I think that too often we view evangelism as a one-way exchange of information, but the imagery of a ‘guide’ conjures up all sorts of pictures that modern day evangelism have a difficult time embodying. This relation picture points us to what it looks like to be the type of people who build bridges into the kingdom. As I was studying, I saw in the passage five things that guides do that help build bridges into the kingdom. Since I had to rush through them a bit on Sunday morning, I thought I’d post them as a blog. Here they are:
They are great followers. That’s right, the best guides are always first and foremost the best followers! We see this in the life of Philip. He hears the angels voice and he goes (Acts 8:26). Then, he hears the Spirit’s voice and he runs! (Acts 8:30). Before Philip is a guide, he is an obedient follower. I would argue that it’s the very thing that makes him a guide worth following.
They meet people where they are and find common ground. Please notice that Philip goes and he meets the eunuch on his own turf – as he is traveling in Gaza! He the climbs up into HIS CHARIOT. (Acts 8:31) That picture is significant! It’s the ultimate declaration of validating one’s humanity when we are willing to meet them on their ‘turf.’ For Philip to do this, he needed to look past every social cue (and there were many!) that would have said definitively that Philip should have had nothing to do with this man.
They point out truth that is in view. Let’s be honest, in some ways Philip is given a softball question. The eunuch is reading aloud a prophetic passage about the coming and suffering of Jesus Christ. Then, he simply points out the reality of what the Ethiopian is reading. (Acts 8:34-35) We may never encounter someone in the same situation, but we will encounter people all the time who have a ‘divine longing.’ Something deep dow inside of their soul that years for the touch of God. A “God-shaped vacuum” as Blaise Pascal described it. One of the ways we engage people is to find out what things they are worshiping and how Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of the desire they are holding out. We are called to show people HOW their questions lead them to Jesus.
They push towards new horizons. When I was a backpacking guide, on some of the trips we would wake the students up in the middle of the night and have them start hiking the peak. It was our goal to get to the peak to see the sunrise. You can imagine how much complaining there was on that hike! But, when we got to the peak and got to watch the sun dance it’s way onto the horizon, the students inevitably would sit in silence (and worship). To a person they would exclaim afterwards that it was one of the best experiences of their life! We see Philip doing the same thing; encourgaing the Ethiopian to new horizons, new steps of faith. And so, Philip baptizes the Ethiopian. (Acts 8:38) Every single person has influence and God expects you to use the influence he has given to you!
They celebrate accomplishments. The passage ends by saying that the eunuch rejoiced… but we have to believe that Philip rejoiced too! (Acts 8:39) It’s impossible to see a life changed in the way that this man’s was and to not look back to God in adoration and praise.
I hope that is an encouragement to you as you seek to live as a guide for those whom God would bring into your path. I’m sure there are some that I missed as I read through the passage. If any jump out to you, please post them in the comments section!