The Cloud of Witnesses
Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible
Lesson 3: Philip – Was Not Afraid Of Gentiles
Was Not Afraid Of Gentiles
The Jews had no dealings with Gentiles – they were unclean and untouchable.
The Gentiles had no right to experience the privileges of the Jews – they were the birthright of the Jews, which no one else could enjoy.
God, the Creator of the Universe, was exclusively the God of the Jews. He belonged to them alone. They were the chosen people, the privileged few and not to be contaminated with or by outsiders – Gentiles.
Fortunately, not all Jews acted that way and certainly God saw Himself as the inclusive God. Yes, God had chosen for Himself a special people, Abraham and his descendants, but that did not mean that everyone else was excluded from a relationship with Him.
Because the Gentiles held on to other gods it meant that they had deflected their focus from the One True God, but when they refocused back to God, He allowed them to develop a relationship with Him. Incredibly, even thoroughly pagan kings, like Cyrus, were used by God to accomplish great feats for the outworking of His plans.
Fortunately for these Greeks, there was a disciple amongst Jesus’ followers whom they found approachable. I wonder how long they had been searching for someone who looked welcoming. Someone who was not totally absorbed in his own relationship with Jesus so as to exclude those who were desperately seeking Jesus too.
Philip obviously stood out from the crowd. I wonder why and how. Was it that he was comfortable with his own relationship with Jesus so he could be caring and watchful of those who were on the fringe? Was it that he had watched Jesus and seen how He always seemed to welcome those who were hurting, sick and unloved that Philip went searching for those people in order to allow them access to Jesus?
Or was it that Philip had been so blessed by Jesus that though he considered himself an outsider, he recognised in Jesus Someone who welcomed those thought to be outsiders? Or was it that having seen 5000 people fed he was always trying to get more and more people to come to where Jesus was so as to receive a miracle and so he had that welcoming smile on his face? Or maybe it was that quiet reserved confidence and joy that people saw in Philip that drew them to him.
Whatever it was these Greeks sought him out because he was obviously approachable. They recognised in him someone who had contact with Jesus and who could arrange for them to have an audience with Him.
What about me? What about you? Do we care about those who don’t know Jesus? Those who don’t go to church? Those we consider outsiders? (Oh, we wouldn’t call them that to their face, would we? We just treat them that way.)
How are people going to connect with Jesus unless those of us who claim to walk with Him show that we care? When we live that Christian life which is vibrant enough for us to be able to look away from being self-absorbed with Jesus to actually engaging with those who, as yet, don’t know Him? Yes, we should be passionate about worshipping Jesus. Yes, we should be passionate about living with Jesus, but we should be equally passionate about encouraging others to experience a relationship with Jesus for themselves.
We need to be an attractive Christian and an all-welcoming Christian.
Philip would say to us today...
Be approachable, and then you will be able to introduce people to Jesus and learn even more about who Jesus really is and see how He can answer their needs.
Father, please help me develop a love for those who feel outcast, lonely or despised. Help me display kindness and a gracious welcoming spirit to those who are from a different ethnicity to me. Help me see them as You do and do my best to be friend to them. Amen.
Deuteronomy 10:12-22; Ephesians 3:1-14; 1 Peter 2:4-10.
What is the root cause of racism?
How do we develop a healthy attitude towards those of other ethnic groups?
Why does God love those we consider foreigners?