We can observe movement in many Bible passages. Try it now.
Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him.When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing (Acts 8:38–39).
Do you see it? The Spirit whisks Philip away to his new assignment, while the eunuch takes his newfound faith into the continent of Africa. Is that not awesome to ponder? It illustrates why evangelistic mission is so vital. When we get alongside someone in the outer reaches, the movement might advance anywhere. The ripple effect looked like this:
Philip > Eunuch > Court of Africa > Broader Africa
Think, in the same projecting way, of what occurs on the flip side. If Philip had not obeyed to get positioned alongside this man, and to get up into the chariot for a journey, God would not have expanded his territory in this sphere. When believers choose to make their lives all about themselves, all about their faith story—the movement stops. It’s true. The entire movement doesn’t stop, but the movement halts in three places: (1) Our direct influence sphere—which includes all the not-yet-believing-people we know, (2) Our friend’s influence sphere—all the people that they know and will have influence with, (3) The broader “friends of their friends” circle too.
It’s why mission-less Christianity misses God’s aim. Exalt self growth as the prime objective and you’ll get stagnation. This, by the way, is how some researchers describe today’s church. Dr. Ryan Kozey of Christ Together tallied 73 percent of surveyed Christians having no sharing relationships. The most common response to the question of how many outside the faith they were reaching towards—was zero.
But on the blessing side, God has an expansive vision for what he wills to do through us. It always seems bigger than we think. Look at what happens next in the biblical account. Acts 8 highlights Philip and the Eunuch; Acts 9 shows Ananias and Saul. Why was it important for Ananias to go to Saul? “This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel” (9:15). The outsider Saul (Paul) becomes God’s voice to the Gentile world.
Ananias > Paul > Gentile World > Gentile Churches
As one final example, why did Jesus go from the safe Western side of the Galilean Sea to the Eastern pagan Decapolis region? He went to meet one man, a demoniac, of all people. Refusing his request to go back with him, Jesus said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him (Mark 5:19–20).
Do you see it? This man becomes his appointed forerunner, like John the Baptist was to the western region. And when Jesus returns to the Decapolis, what do we get—large crowds gathering to him. It worked. Not only did they see how Jesus could do wonders; they knew he cared for them! And how striking, the man in great darkness becomes his great light.
Jesus > Demoniac > Decapolis > Decapolis region
As a final word to our study, do not underestimate what God wills do through you. If you are willing to get out of yourself and into reaching someone else, he can multiply his movement well beyond your wildest. Reaching one, reaches many. It’s the way of God.