Pastor John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Pastor John Piper, Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota

I came across a sermon in John Piper’s resource library at Desiring God from 1991 that, I believe, helps Christians sharpen their focus on virtually every area in their lives.  The text is from Acts 8:9-24, the account of Simon who offered Peter and John money for the secret to their ministry of sign gifts.  Simon is described as a magician and when he saw Peter and John working miracles, he was amazed – at the miracles.

Dr. Piper’s illustration of Simon’s lack of focus on the apostles’ true ministry of pointing people to Christ is striking.  When a baby is on your lap and you point to something interesting for them to look at – say, a bird outside – what do they look at?  Your finger!  They miss the whole point of something more interesting because they fixate on the finger that’s pointing, not what the finger is pointing to.

What a great picture.  Simon was amazed at the sign gifts, not on the Savior they pointed to.  We can all do that in so many areas.  How often do we get fixated on physical trappings around us, even amazed at them, and miss seeing Jesus to whom our world points?  The beauty of creation, a powerful sermon delivered by a gifted communicator, a great song on the radio sung by an incredible singer, the encouraging card sent by a caring friend.  So many areas of our lives can be sources of amazement while we completely miss the Lord inspiring it all and the Giver of it all.

Politics can be one of those areas.  The power, the change, the instrument for good in our world, the institution of rewarding those who do good and judging those who don’t.  The danger is always present to concentrate on the political process or charismatic personalities or the desire for better law and lose the focus on Christ Himself, who is supreme and “is all and in all” (Colossians 3:11).

Simon had a form of belief, but it was misdirected.  “Even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip, and as he observed signs and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed” (Acts 8:13). 

By contrast later in Acts, the governor of Cyprus, Sergius Paulus, also believed but his amazement was caused by something else.  “Then the proconsul believed when he saw what had happened, being amazed at the teaching of the Lord” (Acts 13:12). 

We are far too easily amazed, just like the baby’s eyes following the pointing finger.  Christ is the point.  The gospel is the message to reconcile sinners to Him.  Other earthly pursuits and interests have been given for our enjoyment, but we can’t become overly enamored by them, lest we miss Him, the beginning and end of everything.

I commend Piper’s message to you. Click here to read or listen to it.