Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, “This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.” – Acts 8:9-10 NIV
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Although Jesus Christ had told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, there was no reason for them to remain in that location long after receiving the Holy Spirit. The Instruction they got from Jesus Christ when they were informed of the imminent arrival of the Holy Spirit was for them, after receiving the Holy Spirit, to spread the message not only in Jerusalem, but also in Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world, but they chose to stay put in Jerusalem – Acts 1:8. That probably explains why it was possible for them to be successfully persecuted after the death of Stephen – Acts 7:54-8:3. It was this persecution that led to the disciples being scattered and of course their decision to continue to preach the gospel in all the places were they fled to helped to further spread the Gospel – Acts 8:4.
Phillip in his own case fled to Samaria where he continued to preach the gospel and his ministry was marked by several miraculous signs that brought great joy to the city – Acts 8:5-8. Hitherto, there had been a man in Samaria named Simon who, with the practice of sorcery, had amazed the people and was boasting about his own greatness. The people, both high and low, not only accepted his claim about himself but also gave him attention and reverence. They followed him as he continued to wow them with his magic which they wrongly identified as the “divine power”. The arrival of Phillip with the Gospel, which they believed, and accepted, followed by their baptism, opened them up to the falsity of what they had hitherto believed to be the divine power. Simply put, the true Great Power had arrived – Acts 8:9-12. Even Simon himself, probably an evidence of his acceptance of his ignorance, also believed and the one who was considered a leader immediately became a follower – Acts 8:13.
That knowledge remains the single powerful tool that will save everyone including true believers from destruction is not in doubt as even the scriptures confirm this – Hos. 4:6. Every success starts with acquiring the right and relevant knowledge, and successful living as a believer is not exempted. A people who intend to succeed and leaders that wish success for themselves must acquire and disseminate, not just knowledge but the true and relevant knowledge. The hallmark of leadership is to possess knowledge and create an opportunity, not only for the followers to enjoy the benefit of the knowledge of the leader but to also access the knowledge for their personal use. No leader will be successful without the right knowledge. Emphasis is on the word “right” because there is hardly any leader that will not claim to have knowledge. The challenge will always be that of rightness of it. The disciples, no doubt had the right knowledge but were not willing to go out of their way to share it, probably out of non-willingness to leave their comfort zone or fear of the people that had just killed their great leader. Like most of today’s Christians, they manifested great works in their small area of influence but until the great persecution, were not ready to spread this knowledge beyond their immediate environment – Acts 4:32-34. Christians need not wait until they are forcefully made to do the needful. The only disciple that will experience the persecution at that time will be the one that remained in Jerusalem, as those who had complied and voluntarily moved outside Jerusalem were shielded from the persecution, as evidenced by the arrest of Saul on his way to Damascus to persecute the believers there. He was only allowed success with regards to those, who in dis-obedience, chose to remain in Jerusalem and not on the obedient ones – Acts 9:1-19.
Simon was also a leader of some sorts, who apparently was operating in ignorance. His willingness to absorb the truth signified the innocence behind his actions, but that did not stop him from misleading the people during all that time of his ignorance. He had influence, but it was negatively impacting on the people, like it is with most Christian leaders today. Leaders must put more effort into acquisition of knowledge rather than struggling for position of power and influence. The one who has power without knowledge will certainly lead many including him/her self into destruction. Apollos had zeal and was in a position of influence, but his knowledge deficit was a major factor that contributed to the turbulence that happened in the Church in Corinth – 1Cor. 1:12; 3:4:. His acquisition of right knowledge during a visit to Ephesus, through Priscila and Aquila, saved him and all those who followed him at that time from further destruction, but definitely not those who had already died, still having the wrong knowledge that he was peddling before encountering true knowledge – Acts 18:24-26.
That the mass of the people will always require leadership is not debatable. Life has always been designed in such a manner that there will always be a high number of followers in relation to leaders. The choice of leadership however remains the exclusive rights of the follower. The Almighty God recognises and respects this right of every human being to make a choice, else he would have forcefully ensured compliance to His Instructions by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden – Gen. 2:15-17. Joshua despite reeling out all that the Lord had done for the Israelites left them to make a choice (Josh. 24:14-15) just as Jesus Christ in sending out the Apostles told them to always respect the rights of the people to make a choice – Matt. 10:12-15. That right to make a choice includes the right to decide whom to follow but just as for every right that is exercised, the one who is exercising such rights should be ready to take responsibility for the consequences of the choices made. A leader cannot be blamed always by the led for leading them astray especially when it is not the case that they were forced in any way. The minimum knowledge that any human being should possess is knowledge of knowing what his/her aspirations and goals are. It is the possibility of achieving these objectives that should determine the choice of leadership by anyone. The people of Samaria may have been deceived for a while into believing that they had with them the one with the divine power called the Great Power, but they did not hesitate to quickly switch when they encountered, what to them was a more genuine power. It was not about being dis-loyal to the one they always had as leader but about being focused on the attainment of their life goals. The Christian today cannot deny knowing what the Almighty wants and so should be able to make very clear decisions on how to achieve those goals without unnecessary allegiance to any human leader, but that seems not to be the case as majority of Christians today have chosen to pursue goals of their leaders rather than the divine goals for their lives.
The consequences of all the above is a leadership and followership that is steep in pain and distress because they lack the right knowledge of the Almighty God. Christians invest so much in their Christian life but yet get nothing or less than expected simply because of ignorant leadership. It cannot be the fault of just the leadership but also their own fault for either lacking knowledge to break out of the bondage they have found themselves in or, holding unnecessary and unproductive loyalty to their leadership. Seek knowledge as that remains the get out of jail card for anyone who seeks success and this begins with knowledge of who the right person to lead your life will be. May God grant us all the right knowledge required to lead us into success in Jesus name. Amen.