Acts 16:6-10 Should we go to Asia or Macedonia?
We have read Paul’s first missionary journey starting from Antioch back to Antioch (Acts 13:1-14:28) and Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-35). Now we are reading Paul’s second missionary journey starting from Jerusalem back to Jerusalem (Acts 15:36-18:17). Some of us are familiar with the area but some do not. So, here is the map of Paul’s journey. We will see the third journey later.
In his first journey, Cyprus, Antioch (Pisidia), Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, and Antioch (Syria) were main cities. In Cyprus, Proconsul Sergio Paul of the island Paphos accepted Jesus as his savior. In Pisidia Antioch many pagan and Jewish people accepted Jesus. However, in Iconium, many Jewish leaders opposed Paul. In Lystra, people tried to worship Paul and Barnabas as Hermes and Zeus (Greek gods). Back in Syria Antioch, they made their first mission report. It was an exciting time for not only for Paul and Barnabas but also for the first century Christian leaders. They saw that the Spirit of God was working in the broader world beyond Jewish community.
At the Jerusalem Council, the first church opened doors to the pagan worlds by reducing all the Jewish rules and regulations to the minimum. They only required spiritual and moral purity to be a follower of Christ. Almost all the Jewish laws were made complete by accepting the saving grace of Jesus.
Encouraged by this decision, Paul and Barnabas went out for the second time. Barnabas went to Cyprus with John Mark and served God’s people there. Paul, on the other hand, went further and found new companion, Timothy. Together, they covered Lystra, Troa, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athen, Corinth, and came back to Syria Antioch. If we compare those two missionary journey, we find couple differences.
First, they travelled those areas that they knew better during their first journey. Cyprus was Barnabas’ home town. Lystra, Pisidia Antioch, Derbe, Iconium were the close towns to Tarsus, Paul’s home town. So, they expanded their territories a little bit but not that far.
We call that “Affinity” in mission and evangelism. Elderly people can share Gospel with other elderly people more easily. Youth members feel more comfortable with other youth members. Ethnic person can access to other ethnic person with better confidence. That is a natural tendency for all of us.
However, for the second journey, Paul took bold steps following the lead of the Holy Spirit. Barnabas went back to his home town with the one that he felt comfortable (John Mark). Paul also first traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, the places that he knew better. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” After Paul had seen the vision, he left for Macedonia, concluding that God had called him to preach the Gospel to them. That shows that Paul overcame the affinity and became the spiritual father of the Macedonians.
Paul and his companions went beyond their comfort zone. Our next level of mission and evangelism should also go beyond our affinity. Our Filipino group that meets on Saturdays invited African American pastor. They are now on their second step in their mission and ministry. You also accepted me, a Korean American pastor, as your pastor. We are now on the second level of mission and evangelism. With this bigger heart, we can truly worship our heavenly Father together.
On this Father’s Day, we remember our fathers. Some of them were our role models and some of them failed to be good examples. Some of them have given us joy but some of them have abandoned us and left us wounds. However, when we accept our heavenly Father as our true Father, we can move beyond our personal memories and wounds. We can form global family under one God through Jesus our Lord. That was what Paul did and that is what we are going to do.
Let us build a bigger family circle that includes all those who need new family! Fathers! Be a father to those who do not have a father. Be a father who reflects the unconditional love of the heavenly Father. In that way, let us glorify our heavenly Father together.
- What kind of father are you?
- Whose father or god-father are you going to be?