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Acts 8:26-39, Ethiopian Comes to Believe

God-Shaped Hole

There is a saying that we all have a God-shaped hole inside us. People instinctively search for meaning and belonging. Some try to fill the void with career and financial success. Others with alcohol or drugs. Still others with human relationships. We try to fill emptiness inside us with things outside us, with idols or false gods. And those never satisfy for long. Because the thing we’re really searching for is God.

Philip was sent to an Ethiopian who had traveled to Jerusalem to worship. He was reading the Hebrew Scriptures, even though he himself was not a Hebrew. It’s clear he was searching for something to fill the void. He found a scripture that described the one who could fill that void, but had not yet learned who that was. Philip opened his eyes to Jesus, and the man suddenly knew that Jesus was the one who could satisfy that longing for meaning and belonging. Immediately he asked to be baptized so that he might never lose the experience of finally being found.

There are times when I believe I am in unity with God, and the world seems whole and well. But it slips away so quickly. It is a daily struggle to remember to seek God when the void gets overwhelming. Surrendering our emptiness to God is not something we will ever master. It is an ongoing challenge—one we will strive to achieve, and occasionally glimpse, until the day we die.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Acts 8:26-39

Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this: “Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter, and like a lamb silent before its shearer, so he does not open his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken away from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing.