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Miss Lydia in the Bible

February 21, 2019

      Today, I wanted to write to share a story about a woman in the Bible I had no clue even existed until a couple of weeks ago. During the first day we were in Greece, we made the drive from Thessaloniki to Phillipi. Before we got to the main ancient ruins of the town that was once Phillipi, we made a pit stop at a river which was situated a little beyond where the edges of the ancient city would’ve been (shown in the picture). This river however is not just a cute little creek; it holds extreme Biblical importance in its waters. There, a group of us high schoolers from Atlanta got to stand on the banks of the river where the European Christian church began. Let me introduce Lydia. She was a “seller of purple from the city of Thyatira”, most likely very wealthy, and probably a widow (Acts 16:14 NKJV). As a woman in Biblical times, she asserted power through trade that was rare in itself. Furthermore, she did so without any help from a husband who typically would do any family business himself. She had no apparent reason to need help or have a desire to begin an unpopular movement. She was already going against the winds as a single, female cloth dealer in her community. She had a healthy reputation and wealth; two things we tend to think are sufficient enough to thrive in today’s world. However, Lydia saw what the world tries to blind us from. She saw her need for Christ. Despite her high status and wealth, she recognized that she needed salvation. Lydia was the first Christian convert in Europe. A woman was the first Christian convert. Even more, a single, wealthy woman was the first Christian convert in Europe. Not only did she just believe, she shared the Truth with her household, so she and all of her household got baptized as a result of her belief. This is something to massively celebrate. Despite the ease it would have been for her to fall into a false mirage of earthly security and think she didn’t need any sort of salvation, Lydia had a humbled view of herself when she heard the words of Paul that allowed God to work in her. The Bible says she was a woman “who worshipped God”, but it wasn’t until the “Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” that she truly became a daughter of Christ (Acts 16:14 NKJV). In case you haven’t heard her story like I hadn’t, here are some details. She first heard about Christ from Paul. On his way to Phillipi, he stopped at the river where Lydia and a few other women were drawing water. They were also there praying, but they didn’t know the close relationship with God that salvation brings. Paul stopped to tell them about Christ. Furthermore, her new faith was so compelling that she opened her home to Paul after he got out of jail before he moved on from Phillipi: “So they [Paul and Silas] went out of the prison and entered the house of Lydia; and when they had seen the brethren, they encouraged them and departed” (Acts 16:40 NKJV). When we share Christ with others, our relationships are enriched as a direct result. Paul wasn’t exactly welcome or liked in the community, yet he trusted her enough to stay in her house. Again, Paul trusted and cared for Lydia and her family enough to stay at her house before he and Silas left Phillipi, despite their brief time of knowing each other. First, this right here is something from which we can all learn. If we don’t seize opportunities to tell others about Christ, some may never hear about Him. Paul was not planing on going to the Macedonian area where Lydia was. Instead, he was going to stay in the Asia Minor area, but God had different plans for him. He obeyed God’s call for him to go to Macedonia and his obedience led to the start of the Christian church in Europe. Christ has called us to be His disciples and carry Christ’s story of salvation to the world: “‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15 NKJV). Paul was simply following this call to discipleship. We often make it so complicated and turn our privilege of sharing Christ into a chore. It’s not a chore; it’s our greatest opportunity as followers of Jesus. May we always see our call to spread His story as the privilege it is.

     Now back to Lydia. Her story shows the heart of God in which He chooses the lowliest of men to carry His love. God is a backwards God for sure. What would have been normal is for God to have chosen a rich king or nobleman to be the first European Christian convert, yet instead, He chose a wealthy widow. I share this story because I love the fact that it reminds me that there is always more to learn. There is beauty in the stories that aren’t stressed or highlighted in the Bible. There is beauty in the fact that we know a God so big that we will never know ALL about Him. It’s a crazy, slightly overwhelming, privilege we get to pursue Him and lean into His Word despite our doubts, sin, and lack of complete knowledge. Today, we can celebrate our unique opportunity to learn more every day about the backwards ways and heart of Christ.

     With love,


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