“But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, ‘This man is the power of GOD that is called Great.’ And they paid attention to him because of a long time he had amazed them with his magic. But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of GOD and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Even Simon himself believed, and later being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles performed, he was amazed.” – Acts 8:9-13
While we may be living in a new century, there are practices that have always been present. In Acts, we have the start of the Church Age which is the time that the apostles were instructed by Jesus Christ, LORD and Savior, to go and preach the good news of the Gospel to Jewish individuals and Gentile individuals. As this started to happen, large territories were opening up to the Gospel.
As we see in the example of Acts, Philip was an apostle who decided to preach the Gospel and give hope to those who were lost. Among the way, there was an individual who was considered great by the standards of the world. He was able to do great miracles and gather influence. When Philip began preaching, this individual was amazed at what he heard. The individual was converted.
Why would an individual who had such influence in the world being able to astound most people decide to convert? Why fore go that influence that so many strive to reach or grasp at? What could possibly have led him to choose to do something that was opposite of what he was doing?
It is difficult to know specifically what led him to do what he did since we are not there to hear or understand what happened. We did not hear what Philip preached or heard the counter-arguments given by those around Philip. One thing we do know is the power of the name of Jesus Christ and the power of His kingdom and glory. So many stories of conversion teach us that while it may appear that people may be so far gone they are unable to trust again or believe in a hope that is beyond what this world of pain has offered, repentance, redemption, and agape love may actually be strong and eternal.
What counter-arguments can be given to this? It is interesting that this passage is given right after we are given a passage of Simon after reading about Saul prior to his conversion. Why would these individuals decide to turn to follow the way? People call you great and you turn to Jesus? Saul had the power to destroy multiple territories and yet converted to Jesus? How is this possible based on the standards of the world?
The answer is seen only when we change our point of view from seeing only at world level and begin to see at a spiritual level. If we attempt to understand the reasoning by thinking about what comforts, influence, power, and strengths they had, it is difficult to answer. If we attempt to understand the reasoning by shifting to a spiritual perspective, we see that these individuals actually had nothing. They had a lack of love, a lack of understanding, and a lack of connection with the eternal. Their momentary pleasures were short lasting and their heart only grew colder.
Can a heart grow even additionally extra cold? It can and it may lead to a sense of increased pain and suffering when it chooses to embrace the transitory instead of the eternal. The absence of the eternal creates a coldness similar to the coldness from a lack of heat. Coldness is not a physical property of matter, but rather a loss of heat. Coldness is actually the absence of heat. Pain is the absence of love. Suffering is the absence of joy. And all of this is self-inflicted.
You can state that you are irredeemable. You can state many things but the truth of the matter is that you matter. You can heat that cold heart up real fast if you choose repentance and redemption. There is hope for you too. There is hope for those that are hopeless.