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Logic and Efficiency Don’t Always Count

Acts 16 has Paul preaching on the outskirts of Phillipi, a Roman colony city in northern Greece.  To give you an idea of its modern location, Philippi was about 450km as the cross flies from modern Istanbul, at the same latitude.  Why am I talking about distance and location?  Because in vv14 saying, “One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying.”  Thyatira is the location of one of the seven churches mentioned in Revelation, (Rev 3:18-29).  These churches are all located in modern south west Turkey.  Even by car they are a considerable distance from Phillipi and northern Greece.  I have been to Turkey and the ruins of Ephesus.  Turkey is a mountainous vast country.  We travelled by car from the Bosphorus to Ephesus, and it took over 4 hours, and that’s only half the distance in a straight line to Phillipi.  Paul travelled by ship, donkey, and foot.  All this to say, why did God choose to use a woman from a distant place to extend his mission?  We find by the end of Acts 16, there is a church in her house (Act 16:4).  In our thinking it is inefficient.  Why didn’t God use someone from Athens or Corinth, or somewhere closer?  The answer, we don’t know.  Lydia herself was probably a wealthy patroness, as a dealer in clothing warn only by the wealthy, which meant she also had a house large enough to facilitate a church.  But why use someone whose roots are in such a distant place?  It’s an example of God’s ways being greater than our ways.  Jesus said, “… I will build my church, and all the powers of hell* will not conquer it” (Mt 16:18).  How Jesus’ builds the Church, is Jesus’ prerogative.  Sometimes logic and efficiency don’t come into it.  Sometimes our logic and bent for efficiency become the powers that inhibit the expansion of his Church.  And yes, it is wisdom to ask the hard questions.  In the end, we need to resign ourselves to letting God be God.  Our attitude should be that Lk 17:10, “We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.”  If we are faithful in what we know, the success or failure of mission is his. 

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