Mobility and the Lord’s Servant
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. … Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road–the desert road–that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, … When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea. Acts 8:4-5, 26-27, 39-40 NIV
Philip, one of the seven chosen to serve the over-looked widows because of he was ‘full of the Spirit and wisdom” (see Acts 6:1-5). After the stoning of Stephen, Philip left Jerusalem, going north to Samaria to proclaim to these people the Good News of Jesus and forgiveness through His name (Acts 8:12). Then, led by the Spirit, he moved south to the road leading up to Jerusalem where he encountered the Ethiopian eunuch and led him to faith in Christ as he had done in Samaria. (Acts 8:26ff). Immediately after this encounter, the Spirit took Philip west to Azotus and then north through the coastal towns until he reached Caesarea. And here Philip’s story takes a long pause.
Note Philip’s mobility for the sake of the Gospel. He went north to Samaria from Jerusalem, then south to meet the Ethiopian, then west to Azotus, and then north again along the coastal road to Caesarea. He was led of the Spirit to this mobile lifestyle. He was ‘deployable’ – able to be moved to a place where he can be used when he is needed. And God blessed his efforts with fruit as he shared the message of Jesus.
We next encounter Philip 20+ years later at the end of Paul’s third missionary tour. Paul and friends stop in Caesarea and there they meet with Philip. In Acts 21:8-9 we read, “Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.” Philip had married, settled down, raised four daughters, and for the past 20+ years had stayed in Caesarea. What to make of this?
There is a time for mobility and there is a time for settling down. Both are good and right. There is a time for singleness and a time for marriage and raising children. We do not conclude that marriage necessarily means the end of mobility, nor do we say that being single means one cannot settle in one place for an extended period. It is all dependent upon the Lord’s direction. Listen carefully to His leading and you will know if it is time to move or time to stay!