In Acts 16, Paul has a vision in the night of a man urging him to “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” He didn’t ask questions; he obeyed, packed his things, and went. This is not an ordinary occurrence. The book of Acts is not prescriptive for the church today, meaning, there are extraordinary and miraculous things recorded that were specific for the first century church. However, that is not to say that God doesn’t still move in miraculous ways. In this story of the Macedonian call, we see how God melds extraordinary and ordinary circumstances to accomplish a mighty work among his people.
On this journey, Paul traveled to the city of Philippi and met two people who would end up as founding members of the Philippian church: Lydia and a jailer. They were unlikely converts who were going about their ordinary lives until Paul approached them with the gospel message. About ten years after the events in Acts 16, Paul finds himself in prison and is writing to the Philippian church. His letter is short but bursting with joy; he had a deep affection for the people of Philippi. The impact of Lydia’s conversion was incredible: she showed great hospitality and hosted the church at Philippi in her home. The jailer’s conversion was just as extraordinary: his entire family heard the gospel and were among some of the first believers in Europe.
Paul experienced a supernatural missional call in his Macedonian vision. The circumstance was extraordinary, yet he was sent to serve simple people living out ordinary lives. Lydia was attending a prayer meeting. The Philippian jailer just showed up to work. We may not be Paul traveling on missionary journeys across the world, but we are called to the same mission. Your Macedonia may be your workplace. Maybe it’s the grocery store or your local gym. It could be your home, filled with little ears that need to hear the gospel, too. Where does the ordinary mission of the people of God take place? It takes place wherever you are, right here and now. Click To Tweet
Where does the ordinary mission of the people of God take place? It takes place wherever you are, right here and now. Lydia was by the water, the jailer was at work, and Paul was wherever the people were. Living on mission is not as much about going as it is obeying. To go on mission is to be on mission, and to be on mission is to faithfully share the gospel with those already in your midst.
Here are three ways we can apply the missiology of Acts 16 to our ordinary lives:
1. Identify // Who are you with most often? Who gets most of your time and attention each week? Think outside the box: Not just family and friends but those who reoccur in your path on a regular basis.
2. Be Intentional // Paul was intentional with his approach to Lydia and the other women. He recognized their interest in worship and prayer and used that to introduce a gospel conversation. The Holy Spirit opened Lydia’s mind to hear and heart to feel the good news of Jesus. Do you know someone with an interest in God, but a misunderstanding of the gospel? I live in Appalachia where most people say they are a Christian but could not articulate the gospel if asked. Instead of shaming their unbelief, use it to open a conversation in humility and grace. Pray that the Spirit will open their hearts and minds.
3. Recognize the Accidental // Paul was not planning on getting arrested and beaten for a crime he did not commit in Philippi. Although he and Silas found themselves in an undesirable situation, their accidental meeting of the Philippian jailer is one of the most powerful conversion stories in the book of Acts. Recognize the divine appointments God has placed in your path and pray for guidance in sharing the gospel, even in situations that are uncomfortable or unwarranted. The Lord goes before you. Recognize the divine appointments God has placed in your path and pray for guidance in sharing the gospel, even in situations that are uncomfortable or unwarranted. The Lord goes before you. Click To Tweet
There is beauty in the ordinary ways we live out the gospel. Just today, my daughter and I were talking about our family, and she said, “God gave us to each other!” She’s right, and that is something I have told her often when she gets frustrated with her little sister. I try to remind her that yes, she can be upset but at the end of the day, God gave her a sister for a reason. He could have placed us anywhere with anyone, and he chose to plant us right where we are.
God is not just intentional; he is sovereign and holy. He reigns over both our ordinary and our extraordinary circumstances. He is our peace in the storm and our joy in the morning. We dwell in his shelter and abide in his shadow. He will never leave or forsake us, and he has ordained us – as ordinary as we may be – for good and holy work.