Acts 8:9-25

Faith is spreading.  New believers are scattered because of persecution and go outside Jerusalem, to Judea and Samaria and start sharing the news of what has happened to them.  Today we encounter an interesting question that is often asked by youth.  Do the ends justify the means?  As long as good is accomplished it does not matter if the power used is white magic, power from Satan, or black magic or power from God, does it? 

         Simon, a sorcerer is performing miracles in Samaria and accepted as a representative of God.  Good things happen and he basks in that identity.  Non-Christians are not necessarily bad people.  People do not have to be Christians to do good or to do miracles.  The question is their source of power.  Philip arrives and Simon realizes that there is an even greater power than what he has known and used.   He believes and is baptized.  He has taken baby steps of faith but he is now going to meet a challenge. 

         Peter and John arrive from Jerusalem and lay hands on the Samaritan converts who then have spiritual experiences like speaking in tongues.  Simon is awed and wants power and offers to buy that power from Peter and John.  Simon is not looking for relationship with God.  He is looking for power and implied is to impress people.  Peter confronts Simon about the shallowness of his faith and Simon repents.

         It is possible for us to believe and still be very immature in our faith.  We call it baby Christians or milk Christians.  Age nor years of faith guarantees growth in faith and maturity.  Before we are too hard on Simon, though, who had no Bible and no upbringing in Christianity, let us reflect on how many times we bargain with God for approval or power.  We ask God for a job and promise to tithe.  We ask God for health and promise to serve.  We subtly think that if only we could act in such and such a way, God will love us more.  For sure the pastor can tell the story of faith better than ourselves!  By grace we are saved and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God — according to James 2:8,9.  Easy to say but so hard to believe.  God loves us just the way we are.  Our testimony comes from our love and appreciation for all he has done for us in Christ and is not a power game.  Father, help me to not try and buy or earn your love but live in gratitude for all you do for me.  Thank you.

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