Thursday, April 16. Acts 8:26-40.
(This is a repost from the Acts study)
Throughout history the term “Christianity” came to be identified as a European institution. In the Middle Ages this was so true that the Geographical region of Western Europe was called “Christendom.”
In our reading today we have a refreshing reminder that from the very beginning the message of Jesus was spread to all parts of the world. Yesterday we saw that Philip went to the north and brought the message to the Samaritans. Today he went to the south and brought the message to the Ethiopians.
We must keep this in context. To the Roman mind, Ethiopia was on the farthest southern edge of the world. They really could not conceive of anything beyond it since the majority of the northern region of Africa was spanned by the impassable Sahara desert. Ethiopia was the southernmost region of the Red Sea, beyond which lay only mystery for the Roman mind.
For our cultural context it is important to note one simple thing: the Ethiopians are very dark-skinned. Hear this – Christianity is not white man’s religion! In this story we see the gospel reaching Africa in the infancy of the church. From church history we discover that some of the original apostles journeyed far east and took the message of Jesus to India and Asia. God’s design from the very beginning was that all people would know his love and be in unity with one another. Over time, due to various political issues, the early church became divided and the Asian and African church was cut off from the European church. It is one of the greatest tools of Satan to divide the church across ethnic and doctrinal lines in order to keep us focused on our differences so that we cannot acknowledge the love of God.
In our world of global communication and a growing interchange between cultures, we have an opportunity that was never before possible. We can begin to build bridges of unity between the Western Church, the African church, and the Asian church. We are one body, with one Spirit, and one Lord. Imagine what could happen if there was true, global unity in the body of Christ.
If nothing else, may this study be a simple awareness tool to always remember that whatever ethnic origin you may be from, it is not the center of the universe. We are all parts in God’s family. May we ride off today, like the Ethiopian eunuch, rejoicing in the kaleidoscopic Kingdom of God