Relax and listen. Consciously prepare to hear God’s Word. Clear your mind of the worries and tasks that lie before you. Open your heart and allow it to refresh.
Acts 8:9-25 (NRSV)
Now a certain man named Simon had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he was someone great. All of them, from the least to the greatest, listened to him eagerly, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” And they listened eagerly to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip, who was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed. After being baptized, he stayed constantly with Philip and was amazed when he saw the signs and great miracles that took place.
Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. The two went down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit (for as yet the Spirit had not come upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then Peter and John laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me also this power so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God’s gift with money! You have no part or share in this, for your heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and the chains of wickedness.” Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.”
Now after Peter and John had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news to many villages of the Samaritans.
Money, media, work, hobbies, and routines dominate the use of time and energy in today’s world. Instant access to information and knowledge seems to increase the hold these distractions have over us.
Philip’s preaching and teaching led many to believe that Jesus was the long-hoped for Messiah and Simon the magician was among them, amazed at the power demonstrated by Philip in the name of Jesus. Simon asked for the same power. At Pentecost, the manifestation of the Holy Spirit resulted in many persons coming to belief in Jesus. Unlike Simon, they were not distracted by the amazing signs and wonders, but began ministry to persons outside the Jewish community.
It is easy to be distracted by the cacophony of today’s world, especially by its messages directed to us in a 24/7 manner. It is easy to devote time and energy to being up-to-date in conversations and consumption rather than using that time and energy to serve God and carry out the Great Commission. Simon, rebuked by Peter, pleaded for forgiveness.
As twenty-first century believers, we need to be on guard against being modern Simons, dazzled by the signs and wonders of the world.
The world’s wonders are so seductive, Lord, help me to see beyond the dazzle to discern your will for me. Because time is a gift from you, impress on me the need to use it wisely. Amen.
Go with God.