Simon the Sorcerer
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.”They followed him because he had amazed them for a long time with his sorcery. But when they believed Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, amazed by the great signs and miracles he saw.
It’s my guess that before many of us heard Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:39, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it”, we all thought we were some level of great.
It’s okay, you can admit it. I will too. Before knowing Jesus, our lives were centered around the greatness of self. Achieving selfish desires and seeking after things that would fulfill and establish a name for ourselves. I know before I knew Christ, I was on a slippery slope of idolization of self-value and worth – mainly in what others thought of me. I so desperately wanted to be like Simon. I wanted to be looked upon by those low and high with great respect, reverence and awe. I thought that if I could just attain a certain level of status with those I looked up to most, then certainly, I would be fulfilled.
As described in the text, Simon had great fame amongst the people of Samaria. Those who knew him even thought he was god-like. He had all eyes on him, all the time. He knew how to command a room and keep their attention with amazing and impressive acts of sorcery and magic. Surely, this was the peak of Simon’s life. He had great influence over those who looked up to him. The people listened to him and were continuously amazed by him.
But one day, Simon found the attention of the people was no longer in the palm of his hands. Someone else was stealing the show…
Philip had stolen the attention of his audience with the truth of the gospel. Now all of a sudden, the people were more interested in hearing about Jesus, rather than seeing Simon’s sorcery, and Simon was too.
Miraculously, Simon was also among the many who were touched by Philip’s faithfulness to share the gospel everywhere he went. Simon became a follower of Philip and chose to no longer be a chief producer of propaganda for himself, but a disciple of Jesus, and one who laid down his “greatness” to serve the one and only Great God.
Many of us look at Simon’s life before Christ and think, “Man, he had it all.” I mean, being a magician is no noble or holy position, but he had the love and respect of the people — two things every human being deeply long for more than anything else. The fact of the matter is, the influence Simon had on those people was superficial, surface level and would only last for a while until they found their next source of entertainment. His influence didn’t have deep roots in their hearts, it wasn’t truth-centered.
The same goes with the superficial influence many of us THINK will make a lasting impact on others. We want the status, the attention and the glamour, but in reality all of that, will amount to nothing.
True, deeply-rooted influence on others takes time. It takes a gospel-centered approach that puts the others’ hearts and souls first. It takes laboring in love, sacrificing time and resources and really listening to what the other person has to say. Simon may have captured the attention of the townspeople, but it didn’t take much for someone like Philip, who brought both truth and love, to steal their attention.
Now, loving others and sharing the gospel is certainly no popularity contest. But, establishing effective and genuine and amazing influence is key to making strides for the Kingdom.
So, what kind of influence have you been attempting to have on others? Do you seek glitz and glamour like Simon? Or, have you sought genuine, amazing relationships that are truth-based like Philip?
Consider those around you who look up to you and think of how you can take one step towards influencing them towards Christ-centeredness today.