- In the book of Acts the first followers of Jesus called themselves “the Way”: people of the way of Jesus, the Way who is Jesus. Acts describes several key characteristics of these “people of the Way.”
- As people of the Way we are called to inclusiveness: “Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him’” (Acts 10:34-35).
- Starting in Acts 8, we see the Holy Spirit pushing the early Church out of their comfort zone, away from Jerusalem and out into the world. Acts 8-10 provide stories of radical inclusion as they moved out of Jerusalem: welcoming Samaritans, welcoming their chief persecutor, welcoming a Roman centurion and his family.
- One of these stories of radical inclusion is the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. This Ethiopian eunuch was as “totally other” to Philip as he could possibly be: dark-skinned, foreign-cultured, exotic-dressing, accent-speaking, religiously uncertain, and sexually ambiguous. Yet none of this mattered to Philip: he asks no questions about these things, but simply points him to Jesus through the Scriptures and baptizes him upon confession of his faith.
- This inclusion had been anticipated in the Scriptures: Isaiah 56:1-8 in particular speaks of “the foreigner” and “the eunuch” being gathered into God’s people, being welcomed and included.
Questions to Ponder:
- Who is the “totally other” to me? Who are the “Ethiopian eunuchs” for us today? Who are the people around us of different faith backgrounds? different ethnic and cultural backgrounds? different social status? different sexual identities?
- How can I overcome my uneasiness and discomfort around these people, even my fear of these who are “totally other,” and step out instead in faith to love them with the love of Jesus?