Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch…
In Acts 8.26-40 God sends Philip along a desert road, where he encounters someone least like himself: a foreigner who has been sexually mutilated, serving as a high government official. The Ethiopian eunuch is of a different race, ethnicity and language from Philip. He is sexually different, and of a different social class. The eunuch is reading scripture and has a question. Philip engages him in conversation The eunuch invites Philip to get in his chariot and sit beside him. Philip does, and in the ensuing conversation the eunuch asks to be baptized, which Philip does. Then he magically disappears and the two go their separate ways.
We are most naturally attracted to people just like us, but the gospel sends us out to join the journey of people who are different. Way different. To really proclaim the grace that transcends boundaries of deserving, privilege and control, we have to transcend our own boundaries. We have to share the journeys of others, especially those who are not like us. (One way racism persists is that white folks don’t befriend people of color.) It’s in the boundary-crossing that we experience the grace that is beyond our ability, control or deserving.
So we stop and talk to the homeless person on the street, or the laborer cleaning the hallway. We befriend someone who is incarcerated, or gender non-conforming, or an undocumented immigrant, or of a different religion, or who has a mental illness—or just someone who’s left out. We don’t just wave at them on the way by. We get in the chariot and sit beside them. We engage them in relationship. We journey with them. We see beneath the stereotypes (including these I just listed) and see the person who like the eunuch has questions, cares about things, and seeks God. Then it is they who minister to us. They enrich our world. That’s where grace happens. Even miracles.
Who are those people who are different who God might be sending you to? What are the differences you hide behind? Who are the unlikely ones who God is asking you to accept, and journey with? Run alongside. Get in the chariot.
—April 26, 2018