The man of Macedonia. 16:6-15
In our passage for study, Luke commences his account of the evangelization of the Aegean shores, 16:6-19:20. He first recounts the call of the man from Macedonia, v6-10, and then the conversion of Lydia, v11-15.
v6-8. Paul, along with Silas and Timothy, visits Lystra, Iconium and Pisidian Antioch, but they are restrained by the Holy Spirit from heading into Asia and visiting Ephesus, or going north into Bithynia. So, they end up at Troas. Luke again recounts Paul's sensitivity to the leadings of the Spirit, either through an inward prompting, a prophetic word, or some physical, social or political restraint.
v9. In a vision, the Spirit leads Paul to journey to Macedonia.
v10. Paul immediately arranges transport to Macedonia. The change from "they" to "we" indicates that Luke now joins the missionary team.
v11. Luke carefully notes the route taken to reach Macedonia.
v12. Disembarking at Neapolis, the missionaries travel to Philippi. Philippi was a Roman city colonized primarily by veteran soldiers who had served in the great battles of the era (42BC: Antony and Octavian's defeat of Brutus and Cassius. 31BC: Octavian's defeat of Antony and Cleopatra).
v13. In visiting the city, Paul seeks out the Jewish community, following his pattern of "to the Jew first." In Philippi there is no synagogue, only an unofficial meeting of a group of women, some of whom are God-fearers.
v14. At the meeting there is a business-woman named Lydia. She is obviously an intelligent, self-motivated, moral woman, but in particular, she is a God-fearer - a Gentile associate of religious Jews. In line with the principle, those who seek find, the Lord makes sure she can understand Paul's explanation of the gospel. On hearing the good news of the kingdom, she puts her trust in Jesus.
v15. Her family (household) is also evangelized; they believe and are baptized. She offers hospitality to the missionaries and her home soon becomes the centre for a new church in Philippi. The seed sown, now bears fruit.
Evangelizing Baby Boomers
Father Time is finally catching up with the baby boomers and so the funeral industry is gearing up to service these children of the 50's. The funeral homes know well that a memorial service read from a book by a robed official of organized religion does little to satisfy the longings of this peculiar generation. A flowery religious service is no longer welcome; "OK for dad and mum, but not for me". A baby boomer wants their life celebrated, not mourned.
Lydia, this self-motivated, hands-on business woman, was very like the middle-class baby boomers of Western society, a group once greatly influenced by the gospel, but today rarely found in church, viewing organized religion as an anachronism. For the Christian church they are the lost generation, and there is little evidence that their children, Generation X, or Y, will ever set foot in a church.
In the 80's, when the baby boomers were coming into their own, organized religion had retreated from the real world and internalized religious experience. Baby boomers are modernists, they are focused on objective concerns rather than inner tranquility. The drug of the 80's was Cocaine, not LSD. By the time the church caught up in the 90's, baby boomers had all but severed their links with the church.
The objective concerns of baby boomers are easy enough to identify:
i] Family. Marriage stability and permanency was expressed in formal marriage, although as we move through the 10's, marriage breakdown has became endemic. For their children, education was paramount. This is evidenced in the growth of privately funded schools.
ii] Morality. Although initially socialist, egalitarian, the trend for baby boomers is toward a conservative, rather than radical morality.
iii] Politics. The politics of the middle ground. Swinging allegiance is the name of the game for baby boomers.
iv] Preservation. Anti nuclear, anti union, anti multinational, and an interest in "futures".
How then do we evangelize this lost generation to the church. Most were churched, even attended a Billy Graham crusade, but now they are churched out. Maybe the best we can hope for is that like Lydia, the seeker in them will blossom. For this to bear fruit we must redouble our efforts to communicate the gospel, and communicate it in a relevant and meaningful way. Baby boomers are children of the box, TV, and dabble a little in new media. So, let us redouble our support for media ministry and by this means make the gospel known before Father Time has his way.
Paul was not bewildered by the secular city. He knew full well that as God's messenger he could break into this bastion and release the elect from their blind captivity. The message was the means. Try to identify how best to communicate the gospel message to baby boomers.
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