No Turning Back

This Sunday we arrive at a missional moment in the story of the early church, as Philip—one of the seven Hellenists chosen to “serve at tables”—has the opportunity to share the good news of Christ with a man from Ethiopia. This man becomes, in turn, a disciple commissioned to return to his homeland with good news. Ethiopian Christians today trace their history back 2,000 continuous years, to this ancient story in Acts 8:26-40. Few countries in the world have as longstanding a Christian presence as Ethiopia–Philip’s witness had an unbelievable impact—2 millennia of disciples in that nation.

Alongside this ancient missional moment, last Sunday we learned about the modern missional realities of Christians in Pakistan. Pastor Eric spoke in worship and our adult faith formation class about increasing religious extremist in Pakistan over the last 40 years, and how this affects the 2-3 million Christians in that land. He shared about the burning of 20 churches in 2023, including a number of Presbyterian congregations, and how believers are responding, persevering in worship and witness, and continuing to train new church musicians and leaders to serve, despite the threat.

What can we take from these missional stories, ancient and modern? First, the reality that true discipleship will always eventually include some degree of risk. It was true for Philip as he had to decide whether or not to expand the reach of baptism to the Ethiopian man, and it is true for Pakistani Christians now as they grapple with their witness in a dangerous context.

All this challenges us to consider: What are the risks to us, today in the US, for living as disciples? What risks are we willing to take to serve Christ? What might be the cost?

Recognizing these risks, may we join our voices in the song Pastor Eric shared has its roots in Indian Christian communities: “I have decided to follow Jesus, I have decided to follow Jesus. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.”

Scripture for Sunday: Acts 8:26-40 Read or Listen
Sermon Title: Living in the Light of God’s Love