Tidings for Tuesday

Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them. Acts 8:5

If we go back to Acts 1:8, we find that the Lord Jesus gave His followers a three-stage program for spreading the Gospel. The first stage was to Jerusalem and all Judaea, that is, to the Jews. Stage two was to Samaria. These people were a mixture of Jew and Gentile, and had their own version of the Jewish religion. Stage three was unto the uttermost part of the earth, that is, to the Gentile world that encompasses all of the rest of humanity. It is significant that although the Lord Jesus specifically mentioned Samaria in his departure message, we reach the eighth chapter of Acts before we find anyone taking the initiative to go to them with the Gospel. Philip is to be commended for doing so, but why did it take so long?

As we learned in John 4, the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans. Although they worshipped the same God, the Jews considered the Samaritan religion to be flawed and false. They also considered the Samaritans to be racially impure and therefore inferior. No Jew ever wanted to have any dealings with Samaritans; it was a very strong prejudice. But the Lord Jesus had no such prejudice. In John 4, we read of his visit to Samaria early in His ministry. And in Acts 1, we read of His inclusion of Samaria in His program for spreading the Gospel. But it was not until Philip came along that the Gospel actually was taken to Samaria. Note that this was not Philip the apostle but Philip the evangelist, one of the seven deacons selected to oversee the food distribution to widows. With their Lord’s direction so clear, why had nobody gone before? Possibly for the same reasons why we are reluctant to take the Gospel to some of the people around us today.

There are some people who we are reluctant to take the Gospel to. Some of us are shy about speaking up in front of our friends or relatives, or our fellow workers. Others are shy about handing out tracts in a crowd. Yet others are reluctant to stand beside those who preach the Gospel in the open air. But what about the people who we think wouldn’t be interested in hearing about Christ? We will go to a jail to give the Gospel to the inmates there, but not consider a message to the judges and lawyers and others in the legal system. We will give out Gospel calendars and meeting invitations in the poor areas of town, but bypass the mansions of the upper crust. We distribute Seed Sowers packets in areas where we think people will be the most likely to respond favourably, but neglect areas that have strong denominational backgrounds. Do we have any right to discriminate in where we present the Gospel?

The Samaritans were considered poor candidates for salvation, yet thousands were saved. Who else are we missing out on? – Jim MacIntosh

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