Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
-Acts 8:26-31 (NIV)
One of the things I love about the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch is its simplicity. It’s an account of a Christian witnessing. And since modern-day Christians often make evangelism more difficult than it should be, maybe we should take notice.
Philip did 3 straightforward things… He obeyed the Spirit (approached the chariot), found common ground (noticed he was reading Isaiah), and asked a fitting question (“Do you understand what you are reading?”).
You might be thinking, “That’s it?” Yeah, really. That’s it! Witnessing isn’t that complex. Follow me here…
First of all, Philip was obedient. God said, “Go.” Philip went. End of story. When obedience is commonplace in a Christian’s life, opportunities for evangelism are obvious. They’re all around. You can’t help but notice them. Everywhere you turn, there’s a chance to share staring you in the face.
Secondly, Philip was alert. Knowing he was on mission, Philip’s radar was up. And he wasn’t just looking for a convert either… He was looking for someone to invest in. So we too should be attentive for things we have in common with others. Search for unforced ways to connect to those God has placed in your path. Show a genuine interest in other people and you’ll be surprised how many similarities you’ll find.
And last, Philip was normal. He didn’t have to transform into “Evangelism Mode” and start talking and acting in ways that were out of character for him. His first words to the Ethiopian weren’t some unnatural, out-of-left-field “If you died today” spiel. Instead, he engaged the man in conversation by asking a sincere, relevant question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” And guess what? The Ethiopian was actually interested in what Philip had to say. Imagine that!
Let’s be honest… Philip was calm, cool and collected, the exact opposite of most Christians who are pressed into the same situation. Why? It’s simple… Evangelism wasn’t a part of Philip’s life. It was his life! As much as we try, Christians can’t separate the two. It’s not a switch we can flip on or off.
But that’s why it starts with obedience. The more experience you have, the more at ease you will be. And the more at ease you are, the more witnessing becomes an instinctual, effortless part of your life.
So let’s follow Philip’s example. Sharing the gospel is really not as complicated as we make it out to be.
Be obedient. Be alert. And please, be normal.