January 17 | Acts 8:9-17
by Mary Kate Hipp
When you believe, everything changes.
Our passage for today takes place in Samaria. Samaria has a bit of a rough history, canonically speaking. The city was originally intended to be the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel. Samaria was a part of the tribe of Ephraim and Manasseh, it was bound for glory and great blessings, until King Ahaz. Long story short, since the reign of King Ahaz from roughly 730 BC, Samaria has been plagued with conflicting loyalties to God and to idols. Samaria was filled with what we would call "spiritual mutts." Phoenicia and their many, many gods influenced the culture.
To some Jews, Samaria seemed godless, hopeless, and lost. So to find Simon practicing sorcery with a great following in Samaria is not entirely shocking. BUT! But when the people heard the Gospel, when they believed, everything changed.
Bear with me on this, but perhaps there is a part of you that is like Samaria. Perhaps your loyalties are divided between God and between man or idols. Or maybe there are people in your life whom you can privately and fervently be praying for that are like the people of Samaria. No matter where you fall on that scale, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ has the power to change everything. It transforms and rebuilds hearts, redeems all that seems lost, and captivates once-divided loyalties. All that you must do is believe. Your metaphorical Samaria can be radically revived, as it was in Acts 2,000 years ago if you but believe!
Friends, I implore you to turn and believe. If there is a single part of you that has divided loyalties, turn again and fall back into the Gospel of Jesus. To quote the famous theologian, "be absolutely His!" As John writes in his Gospel, "...to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." So believe, and be a child of God.
*Picture from modern-day Samaria (Sebaste), Israel.
Forgive us, for we have turned away from You. Have mercy. Show us Your great power of calling us home to Your redemptive love.