Slow your breathing and become aware of the taking in and letting out of your breath. Focus on putting things aside so you will be open to what God is saying to you today.
Acts 8:18-24 (NRSV)
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.”
Acts 8:14 reads: Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter (The leader of the apostles) and John (who in Luke 9:54 wanted to call down fire upon Samaria) to them.” Ministry among this traditionally hated racial group had previously been forbidden. The next few verses describe what could be called the Samaritan Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit, showing that God had accepted the Samaritans.
Our scripture today begins the story of a new, immature believer who had limited understanding of the gospel. Simon, a magician, living and working in Samaria, had earlier believed the gospel preached by Phillip. Seeing the power demonstrated by Peter and John, he desired that power for use in his magic for monetary gain. Peter’s response seems like a curse rather than a warning. However, correction and instruction are necessary for children to learn, for a skill to be gained, or for faith to mature. Simon was encouraged to repent and verse 24 records his request that the apostles pray for him also.
New believers in our churches whether children or adults need time to grow in their faith and understanding of what it means to follow Christ. Becoming Christ-like is the goal of discipleship. It is human to be judgmental and critical of others especially when the actions of Christians with limited knowledge of the Bible and Christianity seem to be detrimental to God’s Kingdom. It is Christ-like to allow baby Christians to grow naturally, little by little as Jesus allowed his disciples to mature. Peter and John were both the recipients of Jesus’ patient and loving correction.
We will never be totally mature. We will never arrive. The Bible is profound; God is incomparable; Christianity is complex. There is always more to learn, but the Almighty, our loving Father, challenges us to grow in his likeness and supports our efforts. His steadfast love endures forever.
Jesus, Savior, and friend, I am thankful today for your patience with me as I mature in my relationship with you. Forgive my failures and continue to teach me through scripture and the Holy Spirit to follow your teachings more closely. Help me to be patient, supportive and encouraging to those who are young in the Christian faith.
Go with God!