9During the night Paul had a vision: there stood a man of Macedonia pleading with him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”10When he had seen the vision, we immediately tried to cross over to Macedonia, being convinced that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.11We set sail from Troas and took a straight course to Samothrace, the following day to Neapolis,12and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We remained in this city for some days.13On the sabbath day we went outside the gate by the river, where we supposed there was a place of prayer; and we sat down and spoke to the women who had gathered there.14A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul.15When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us.
Henry Ford had a very important relationship with a man by the name of Charlie Steinmetz. Steinmetz was a very different man. To begin with, he was a dwarf and he was deformed. But there was something else about Steinmetz that was very important to Henry Ford. Steinmetz was truly a genius in the area of electrical engineering. It was Steinmetz who had built the first generators in the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
One afternoon those generators stopped running. The regular mechanics worked at solving the problem but simply failed. Every hour that the plant was not operating meant a financial loss for the Ford Motor Company. They decided that the only one who could solve their problem was Steinmetz. He was brought in to fix the generators.
This brilliant man worked for a short time and the generators were working again. Several days later Henry Ford got a bill for the work that was done. The bill was for $10,000, a lot of money in those days and especially for less than a day of work. Even though Ford was a very wealthy man he wrote Steinmetz a letter. He wrote, “Charlie, isn’t this bill just a little high for a few hours of tinkering around on those motors?”
The bill came back with some modification which seemed to explain everything. Now it read, “For tinkering around on the motors: $ 10.00. For knowing where to tinker: $ 9,990.00. Total: $ 10,000.” Henry Ford got the point and paid the bill. Tinkering around on the motors did not matter but knowing where to tinker seriously mattered.
Last Sunday, we talked about loving and serving one another, two ways to be a disciple of Christ. Jesus showed us how to love and serve one another by washing his disciples’ feet. The world will know that we are Jesus’ disciples when we love and serve one another.
Today, we encounter a disciple of Christ who has been known as Jesus’ disciple in human history. His name is Paul. For the last four weeks, we had Bible study. We learned of Paul’s life and theology. Looking at his life, we agreed that Paul was very passionate at spreading the Good news after he came to experience Jesus in Damascus. In fact, I can say that Paul knew his works valued only $ 10 but his knowledge about Jesus valued $ 9,990. Knowing Christ seriously matters. That is why he went out to spread to the world what he knew.
Let’s see today’s text. We come to one of the greatest events in history, the carrying of the Gospel into Europe. That Gospel would saturate the continent and later many followers of Christ would sail out to live in the new land called America, taking the Gospel with them and causing America to become a Christian nation. Furthermore, about three hundred years ago, American missionaries came to Korea with the Gospel. The Gospel has been spread throughout the world.
How did God get Paul to understand that God wanted him to go to Europe? In a dream, God sent him a vision. Paul saw a hungry-hearted man standing on the European shore of Macedonia, with arms outstretched, saying, “Come over into Macedonia and help us.”
When Paul awoke, he thought, “This is it. God wants me to go into Macedonia. Let’s go!” Here is a wonderful thing about Paul. When he understood God’s will, he was ready to follow it immediately.
Macedonia was in Greece, and Greece was in Europe. Greece was rich with beauty, philosophy, art, culture, and gaiety. However, even though Macedonia was rich with those things, they needed help. The man of Macedonia in Paul’s vision represented a great need in that place.
Paul and his traveling companions went to Macedonia and stopped at Philippi, the chief city in Macedonia. They were in Europe now and they were launching a movement which would shake the world. In Philippi, Paul’s party went out by the riverside where a group of good women were holding a prayer meeting. In his vision, Paul saw a man, but at his first meeting in Europe there were only women present. It is worth noting that it was women that were the first Europeans to be evangelized by Paul. The leader of the prayer meeting was Lydia. We can know she was a successful business woman by the phrase “a dealer of purple cloth.” At that time, purple dye was one of the most expensive stuffs. This woman knew God and when Paul and his friends came to the meeting, she was ready to listen.
Lydia listened and came to have faith in Christ. Her faith became immediately active. She was baptized along with her whole household, and she opened her home to Paul and the others. Social and cultural barriers crumbled, and this corner of the empire was beginning to be changed by God’s grace. I can say that Lydia became a person who valued knowing Christ. It is important to note the fact that Paul’s journey was entirely guided by the Holy Spirit. Three times, they wanted to go Asia Minor. However, the Holy Spirit forbids them to go there. And while they were at Troas, on the northwest corner of Asia Minor, the Holy Spirit gave Paul the vision of the man of Macedonia.
In today’s Gospel lesson, we can see Jesus’ promise to his disciples that he will never leave them desolate, that he will come to them in the Spirit, and teach them, and defend them. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit that Jesus will continue his work on earth. It is the Holy Spirit that guides Paul on his journeys, that brings conversions, and that opens the heart of Lydia to receive Paul’s words and to be baptized in Philippi. Christian disciples are never alone. They are accompanied, led, and strengthened by Christ’s continuing work through the Holy Spirit.
Also, the Holy Spit will remind us of what Jesus said to us. It is the peace of Christ, one of the most precious gifts from the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you not as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid.”
Paul believed that his role as Jesus’ disciple was to spread to the world the peace that Jesus promised. Through the Bible study, we learned that Paul’s concern was always “harmony,” “equality,” and “peace.” Especially, it was a very meaningful moment for me. Through this time, I saw Paul as a person who was passionate about Christ and spent all of his time journeying to the nations to spread the good news about Christ. And I learned how the Holy Spirit worked for him and also for us in our whole lives.
And one of the most impressive parts was that Paul, as Jesus did, always taught the church communities to keep equality in the church, the family, and the society. He seemed to believe that this equality would result in a peace through harmony between cultures, generations, and nations. This was very radical at that time. However, this equality and peace was what Jesus promised to all of the people in the world and what the Holy Spirit worked in all of us. Paul was sure about this.
Today is the sixth Sunday of Easter and we have one more week to get to the end of the Easter season. I believe that we all have lived within God’s grace and the Holy Spirit has been with us and has worked for us in our lives for these six weeks. And now, I hope we value above all the knowing of Christ. Also, I pray that we all try to follow Christ who promised peace in our lives. The peace of Christ is given to us. We can either take it or not. As Christ’s followers, let us take it as our precious gift.
Let us pray.
Dear Lord, we give thanks to you for the promise of your love and peace through the Holy Spirit. For our whole lives, be with us and guide us and bless us to be more passionate to serve you and our neighbors. In your name, we pray. Amen.