At our church on Sunday, I preached a sermon about the encounter between Paul and Lydia found in Acts, chapter 16. I described both of them as peddlers, which can describe both someone who sells goods door-to-door and someone who promotes a cause.
Paul was a well-known peddler of the Christian message, and he eventually encountered Lydia in Philippi after several attempts to go other places were blocked or denied. Rather than giving up when he faced adversity, Paul remained steadfast and continued traveling to tell others about Jesus.Lydia also was a peddler – a purple peddler who apparently achieved success by selling highly-valued purple dye or purple cloth. Extracting purple dye from mollusk shells was difficult, and people were willing to pay high prices to attain it.
One Sabbath, while gathering with other women outside Philippi for prayer, Lydia met Paul, listened to his stories about Jesus, and became a follower of Jesus. She was baptized, along with her household, and, like Paul, she became a peddler for Jesus. Lydia appears to have been the first Christian convert in Europe, and her faithfulness to Jesus was deeply influential in the early church. Lydia offered hospitality to Paul, supported his ministry, received Paul and Silas after they were imprisoned, and hosted the Philippian church in her home.
Both Paul and Lydia were open to unplanned and unexpected possibilities that came their way. Surely neither of them could have imagined their meeting and their relationship as siblings in faith that would form. As they were peddling – going about their regular activities – they were open to new possibilities in life and ministry.
So, here is a question for you. As you proceed along your peddling paths, in what ways might you be faithful to opportunities that arise? If, like Paul and Lydia, you are open to unplanned and unexpected possibilities, where might you be led?