And on the Sabbath day we went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together. (Acts 16:13)
This passage contains an answer to a question in the Apostle Paul’s day that is still a question for our congregations today.
In Acts chapter 16, Paul and several companions are on a mission tour. Paul has a vision of a man of Macedonia imploring Paul to come to Macedonia, which today is northern Greece. Paul obliges. As they enter Macedonia, the mission team stops in the city of Philippi.
In his previous mission trip stops, on the Sabbath Paul went to the local synagogue. As one who went through training as a Rabbi, Paul would be invited to speak. Paul would argue from Scripture that Jesus is the Messiah, searching for synagogue members who were moved by this message.
Problem: There was no synagogue in Philippi. Question: Where could Paul and his companions find people who would be interested in Jesus? Answer: The river, where spiritual people were likely to gather. Sure enough, they found a woman named Lydia who was open to hearing the Gospel.
We face the same question today. Where can our congregations find people who are interested in Jesus, curious about Jesus, open to Jesus? Most of our churches rely on members finding friends or family, acquaintances or associates, who want to learn about Jesus. The members invite those curious about Christ to participate in the member’s congregational life.
Sometimes our congregations find groups or communities that are open to considering Jesus’ teaching and claims. Some of these are new communities where new homes are being constructed. Some are communities of first-generation immigrants. From time to time we find established congregations interested in hearing about Jesus because their denominations no longer have historic, orthodox teaching of the faith.
The bottom line is that, compelled by God’s mission, we continue to seek the lost to see God incorporate them into the Body of Christ.
(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS.)