Like an Out of Shape Fitness Coach
And the crowds with one accord paid attention to what was being said by Philip, when they heard him and saw the signs that he did. Acts 8:6
While in Family Practice residency, I saw my own patients long before I had children. Looking back, I gave out a lot of ignorant advice to young parents. When I had my own kids, I realized that a lot of what I’d previously said was nonsense. I felt like an imposter. Later, when I had questions about raising my own children, I went, not to some young physician who had no children, but to those who had children and whose parenting skills I respected. I wanted advice from those whose life stood as evidence that I should listen to them.
This is similar to most addiction recovery programs, which use peer support groups. In treatment myself, I ran into those counselors with no personal history of addiction. They weren’t unhelpful, but they couldn’t assist me in the same way that someone in sobriety could. I found myself naturally listening to those who had been successful with their own struggles. Their lives and recovery were the credentials that allowed me to trust and follow them.
In today’s passage, Philip, who fled Jerusalem under the persecution of the church, preached the gospel in Samaria. Those who heard him believed because he spoke with authority and performed miracles to back up his words. He lived out his faith among the Samaritans by loving them, healing them, and thereby earning the right to speak into their lives. His life’s works stood as evidence that he was someone to be listened to and followed.
As followers of Christ, we should bear obvious evidence of his work in our lives. We may not perform miraculous healings, but we’re supposed to be able to show others of what he’s done for us. Often though, we simply don’t have much to tell. We’re like a fitness coach, who is terribly out of shape himself. We’re impostors, failing to live out that which we claim to believe.
If I want to help others in recovery, I cannot do so without finding recovery myself. If I call myself a Christian, my life should bear witness to my faith. If I don’t want to be an imposter, then I must daily follow God, being transformed through my obedience, so that others can see evidence of his presence in my life.