I recently watched this sermon by TD Jakes that really spoke to me and I really relate to it. First, as a leader in church I see it quite often, from when I joined active service in ministry upto date. Secondly, I got to question myself if I am either of the characters in the text. You will need to watch it to understand what I mean.
In the text where the sermon revolves there are 3 characters; Simon the Sorcerer, Philip and Peter.
Simon the Sorcerer.
Was a reknowned and wealthy sorcerer and consequently had a lot of influence over the city of Samaria. In today’s context we would relate it to a wealthy businessman, politician etc who could influence the relevant leaders of your time e.g. Governor, President etc. In most cases, such person have a belief system that really does not acknowedge God or believes that God is fixed to specific functions.
What stands out for Simon the Sorcerer is that he hears the good news, believes it, receives it and gets baptised. One may argue because people were turning away from him unto Christ and may have felt threatened that he was losing grip on power & maybe his source of income. Whatever the argument, Simon is unfamiliar with the Holy Spirit (or the works) and sadly does not know the Master but just believes the report of the Master i.e. the Good News because he needed to survive the times.
These kinds of persons are very present and at times are even ministry leaders. They are focused more on works, outward manifestation, status and stuck in their old ways because a renewal of mind and moulding of the heart has not happened.
Don’t we know these people?;
- They misunderstand & misuse scripture to keep them in their comfort zone.
- May have relied on man instead of the Spirit of God previously and therefore have come to the conclusion that works of the Spirit are confined to the book of Acts of the Apostle because a certain ‘man of God’ failed them and are bitter about it.
- Prefer tradition over trust in God.
- Believe that something will only happen in faith, if & when, their spiritual leader prays for them.
Philip believed in God, was baptised in the Holy Ghost and was serving in God’s Kingdom. However, he lacked several things that Peter advantageously held. In this text, we see his greatest weakness is that he was not good at discipling the new believer.
You see, Simon asked if he could buy, using money, the power of the Holy Spirit that was being given by the laying of hands. Philip did not speak up rather the more mature apostle did. Well, Phillip was more keen on bringing in the harvest and not the nurturing of the same assumably.
In his defense, we can say Philip was an evangelist and not a teacher or a pastor. Sadly, most of us like Philip are not aware of where our line of service in ministry and thereby;
- Serve everywhere in church i.e. have you ever seen someone who is in more than 3 departments in church at the same time? & not because there is not a shortage of persons.
- Tend to overlook critical matters of the church so long as their agenda is fulfilled.
- Understands scripture, teaches it very well and is sensitive to the leading of the Spirit but does not know neither has he walked with the sender of the Spirit?
- May be a new believer or has been in active service for a long period. It could be anyone. Including you & I.
Peter had a few similarities with Philip but this is what is working out for him;
- He had made his fair share of mistakes in ministry and has learnt from them e.g. betrayed Jesus, failed to believe the resurrection of Jesus etc.
- He grew from his mistakes
- Walked in the Spirit…flesh & blood has not revealed this to you.
- Most importantly, he combines three things heart, soul & mind in his service.
Let me explain.
Your heart responds to intuition and feelings which Simon only knew.
Your soul responds to matters spiritual either way demonic or the Holy Spirit. This is the domain with which Philip was operating under at this point. Trust is the main ingredient at this point.
Your mind is able to discern as well as combine experience, feelings, intuition, trust, discernment & the guidance of the Holy Spirit to come up with a decision.
If you have watched the sermon and read your Bible, you understand that Peter was filled with the Spirit and understood the price paid for the gospel because he was not just an apostle but also was among the 12 disciples who walked with Him. He had first hand experience of what it means to follow Jesus, he saw what Jesus went through and therefore with a combination of heart, mind & soul, he would not allow ungodly and inferior dogma to adulterate the message of the gospel of Christ. Secondly, Peter understood keenly the signifance of Samaria.
When this incident occured, Peter outrightly rebuked Simon by saying ‘ May your money perish with you’ becuase he was there when the seed was being planted in Samaria during Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. It is written that after the encounter with Jesus, the Samaritan woman went about the city proclaiming what Jesus told her, many believed on the account of her testimony and came to see Him. All that Jesus did was add manure & water to the seed when the crowds gathered to Him. So, for him to see the great a price of crucifixion paid by the Master almost being adulterated by earthly traditions and fleshly expectations was a big insult that Peter could not tolerate at the expense of the great harvest that awaited the Kingdom of God.
We need more Peter-like characters in the vineyard because ;
- They are teachable
- Filled with the Holy spirit
- Do not rely on experience alone neither are they fixed on their ways
- Utilise the combination of heart, mind and soul in their service
When I further looked at Peter, I understood two things; Why Jesus said One sows and another reaps (John 4:37) and the greatest commandment of You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, mind and soul. It is not an automatic thing, it will take you letting go of the familiar (heart), some of your logic (mind) and soul (certain connections & belief systems) that were dear to you and get hold of leading of the Spirit and a personal relationship with Jesus. Failure to which you can comfortably be either Simon or Philip.
Well, we all have our work cut out for us starting with introspection, prayer and solidifying our relationship with Jesus.
Jesus, I pray God’s peace to be with each of us as we introspect ourselves, the presence of the Holy Spirit so that we are in tune with what is expected of each of us, renewal of our minds as well as a genuine relationship with Jesus. Amen.