Acts 8


Reading Luke and Acts in 2020

Week 32  |  Acts 8

Acts 8 Reflections and Questions

By Rev. Dr. Jennifer S. Wyant

In Acts 8:26-39, we find the story of Philip and Ethopian Eunuch. It can feel tangential to the overall narrative, which has been focused on Peter and the Apostles and is about to switch to the missionary journeys of Paul as the gospel spreads across the world. But I think if you study this small story closely, you can find in these verses the very heartbeat of the book of Acts.
Because the Ethiopian eunuch is an outsider by almost every single metric. He’s not Jewish; he’s an ethnic and racial outsider as he’s from Ethiopia and he’s a sexual outsider in that he’s a eunuch. And yet, God sees him, while he is riding down the road, trying to figure out how to read the Bible.
And so God sends Philip in a whirlwind of the Holy Spirit to chase after him. And when Philip explains to him the Scriptures, the man sees water nearby and exclaims, “what keeps me from being baptized?” The answer, of course, is nothing. There are no barriers to God’s families.
Nadia Bolz-Weber once remarked, “For some, the good news is that there are insiders and outsiders and they are the insiders. For others, the good news is that there are no outsiders.”
And I think the author of Acts is trying to teach us that core truth over and over again, even if it makes us uncomfortable. The good news is that even the most outside of outsiders is still seen and loved by God.
Too often, we are caught in battles of trying to decide who is inside and who is outside of God’s will or God’s church. But the Spirit of God, throughout Acts and throughout history, moves over and through all of our dividing lines and barriers to meet people on the road and bring them home.
I believe this is the heartbeat of Acts. May it be ours as well.
Questions to go deeper:
  1. Was there ever a time where you felt truly seen by God? Where you knew without a shadow that God was there and sent just what you needed when you needed it most?
  2. Was there ever a time where you felt like Philip? Where you felt the Spirit was leading you to go help someone even if you didn’t understand why? What happened?
  3. What barriers do we currently draw between insiders and outsiders? What are things right now that separate us from people? How might the Spirit be calling you to reach across some of those dividing lines to show God’s love?
Rev. Dr. Jennifer S. Wyant is associate pastor at Birmingham UMC.