Sunday, 13 July 2008

Baptisms at SMC

Today we are celebrating! Matt (12) and Timmy (11) are being baptised and we are gathering with them to eat together and make a public spectacle of this important decision.
I will be speaking from Acts 8 - the bit where Philip meets the Ethiopian Eunuch (an important official of the Egyptian court). The encounter ends with the Ethiopian saying "Look, here is water. Why shouldn't I be baptised?" He has heard, received and accepted the good news of Jesus - he believes and therefore the next obviously step is to fully identify himself, immerse himself in the way of the gospel. I will be speaking about the three commitments we see in Philip 1. to Christ 2. to the body of Christ 3. to the work of Christ in the world.

But it strikes me that there are other things to learn from Philip...

1) He followed instruction
An 'angel' tells him the barest detail - where to go and Philip goes. We tend to press for more detail and over complicate things... Philip trusts and goes. we have to prepared to go following Christ with less detail trusting that the detail will come. In the current outpouring of the Spirit this is one of the things that I see happening - a preparedness to follow instruction and be obedient.
2) Philip responded to opportunity
He knew he was in the right place but still had to wait for the opportunity - at one point Philip was instructed again to go to a certain chariot and 'stay near it'. We are not told how long he 'stayed near it' but being near it brought about the opportunity - he saw the man reading something he knew something about. Sometimes we are called to run alongside and observe, waiting for more instruction - don't be hasty... the opportunity will come.
3) He told the good news
With an invitation from the Ethiopian Philip launched into explaining the gospel starting from where the man was. Our starting point can be different - we have a tendency to start from where we are which is different from where a newcomer to the good news is. Sometimes where we start sounds anything but good news to someone else. For instance, we start with 'church' whereas truly the best place to start is Jesus. How are we at thinking and explaining the good news? is it good news to us? Have we got a reason for the hope we have?
4) He stayed until it was right to go
Philip baptised the Ethiopian and then, it seems, his job was done and the Lord took him to pastures new. Too often we over-stay, or go before it is completed often depending on our personalities and the things that drive us. But if our commitment is first to Christ and open to his guuidance by the power of the Spirit we will know the answer to the question should I stay or should I go?
I hope these thoughts will be helpful to you.

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