(For a better understanding, read Acts 8:1-25 first)
Two men, both by the name of Simon, found themselves in the city of Samaria in the midst of a great revival. One Simon was a native to the city and had quite a reputation as a magician who performed great deeds. The other Simon was a fisherman from Galilee who had seen his teacher do great deeds and had through His power had done some pretty incredible miracles as well. One Simon had the nickname of “Great”, given to him by the people. The other Simon had the nickname “little rock”, given to him by his friend and Savior. One Simon was a recent convert, the other Simon was a transformed disciple. One Simon sought fame, power, and glory for himself, the other Simon sought fame, power and glory for Jesus. One Simon wanted to use God, the other Simon loved God. Both Simons had a profession of faith story and both were baptized, yet they could not be more different.
When you look at the narrative of the Samaritan revival in Acts 8, both of these Simons take a prominent role in the story of this city. They represent two types of people who fill the seats in every church across our landscape. Simon the magician made a profession of faith and was baptized, but only after seeing the mighty acts that Philip was performing. He wanted Jesus, but only a Jesus that could help him be more effective in his own mission. Simon Peter knew what it meant to follow Jesus. It was about repentance and rebuke; forgiveness and faith; grace and sacrifice. Peter wanted Jesus too, but only for the sake of communion and God’s mission.
When someone like Simon the magician shows up at our church, we can get excited. He or she talks about doing great things for God. They want to get involved and be active in the church. We must be very wary of such people. It’s possible to be very active in a local church and have no tangible presence of gospel transformation. If the discipleship process of a church is evaluated by attendance and activity, Simon the magician would pass with flying colors. Discipleship has to be more than attendance, activity, and achievement. It has to be rooted in a life that has been touched and transformed by Jesus.
Over the last few Sundays we’ve been talking a lot about the flesh and the Spirit. Galatians 5 has been teaching us that the Holy Spirit is the CEO of transformation in our lives. He drives it and implements a process to make us look more like Jesus. Let’s not hijack the process that God has us on. Simon the magician wanted a shortcut to transformation, and his heart ended up being exposed for what he really wanted: fame and glory for himself. God always does a wonderful job of exposing what we really want, and He usually uses seasons of waiting to hold the mirror up to our heart.
Eugene Peterson writes, “We cannot manipulate or control the Spirit that forms us and sets us free in the land of the living. Our only access to it is prayer…We want to know how it (life) works, so we can take care of things (or others) ourselves. God knows that if we knew what he knows, we would quickly depersonalize what we know into information or figure out a shortcut that bypasses intimacy.” Wow! Did you get that? You see, transformation doesn’t happen without intimacy. God isn’t after your behavior, He’s after your heart. He wants your passions and loves to mirror his passions and loves.
Let’s enjoy the process that the Spirit has us on today. He’s making all of us wait for some kind of breakthrough, because He wants to make sure that we want Him more than we want the breakthrough. My prayer this morning is that we become more like Simon (the fisherman) than Simon (the magician) today. Enjoy your Friday!