This week we’ll read three short stories from the Book of Acts in the Bible, that show different people with different interests encountering the Christian message. Here’s the first, and remember this is written by Luke, since he mentions himself in the first person:
So, setting sail from Troas, we made a direct voyage to Samothrace, and the following day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city some days. And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
(Acts 16:11-15 ESV)
The first story is that of Lydia, likely a wealthy woman. Purple was very expensive, used for royal robes, for example, and she was the provider. She is named, not simply called someone’s wife, so she seems to be a relatively independent businesswoman, rare as that may have been in those days.
She was a worshipper of God. This means she was exploring Judaism…like some others we’ve seen including the Ethiopian Eunuch, and Cornelius, earlier in the Book of Acts. They were often the first to respond to the Christian message, and they were no exception here.
God opened her heart, she paid attention, and was baptized along with her household…her family and servants.
And then she invites the Christian travellers to her home. This was no small thing, hospitality was a very important and symbolic gesture in their culture.
She is a woman of means. She immediately puts what she has, her home in particular, towards the Christian movement.
She could have responded differently, protecting her own interests with caution, or considering herself too important to learn about some dead carpenter from Israel. But she does neither.
She’s not stuck between two poles as one might have expected. One extreme would be to just lose all her business sense, and another extreme would be to ignore Jesus because she has a nice house. Jesus actually wants to transform her entire life, directing her and her resources toward his kingdom now.
She listens to this unlikely story, and makes it her own. She pours her resources into it, as much as that may challenge her way of life.
Question: What resources do you have? How can you put them toward God’s work?
Meeting with a Group? Your discussion questions are in this week’s Group Study Guide[permalink append=”#comments”]Discuss the Challenge[/permalink]