KEY THOT: Paul and his co-workers were forbidden by the Spirit from entering into the province of Asia and Bithynia: “having been kept by the Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia… they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them” (v.6-7). So they detoured to Troas. It was at Troas, that Paul had a night vision of a man of Macedonia pleading to him to “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (v.9). This is an amazing demonstration of the leadership of the Spirit in Paul’s missionary journey. In many missionary books, the authors like to exalt Paul’s missionary strategy. But in reality, the strategy did not belong to Paul but to the Spirit. Paul was simply obedient to the Spirit’s leadership: when he was blocked from going east into Asia minor and Bithynia, he did not resist but submit. So, because of his submission, he was given new instructions to turn west and head towards Europe. The conversion of Europe and subsequently the Roman Empire was a consequence of this pivotal change of direction. The rest, they say, is history.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of missions. If we were to walk by the Spirit, we cannot ignore this vital ministry of the Spirit: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Everyone who wants to be full of the Spirit must align their life’s ambition with God’s agenda. This does not necessary means quitting our job to be a full-time missionary. But it does mean we are called to be full-time Christian, using our workplaces and businesses as our missional platforms.
Firstly, this requires a paradigm shift in our mindset about work--doing everything for God what we have always been doing just for ourselves: “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31). As believers, we no longer live or work or play for our pleasure or profit but to glorify God’s name through our activity. It would mean being uncompromisingly ethical in our work and business practices because we cannot offer to God success that is a product of deceit and deception: “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight” (Prov 11:1). So, we become witnesses of God through our work and business by demonstrating honesty and integrity in all our decisions. In short, being salt and light in the world.
Secondly, it also requires us to re-adjust our life vision from seeing the marketplace as the place for profit and pleasure to seeing as the platform for missionary work, taking seriously this missional dictum: “every Christian a missionary, every non-Christian a mission field.” God places us in a particular workplace to fulfill His missional agenda, not just for self-gratification or self-actualization. In fact, as true disciples of Jesus, we must take “self” out of our motivation and replace that with “Spirit”: "if anyone who come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). "Self" is just another word for "flesh" (sinful nature) and we cannot walk by the Spirit and still walk after the flesh: "For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do" (Gal 5:17, ESV).
We have been sent to our particular company in the marketplace because there is a Macedonian call from the non-believers there to “come over and help us”. Don’t just see your non-believing staff as office colleagues: they are also lost people needing to know the truth of the Gospel and be saved. Some, like the marketplace businesswoman Lydia from Thyatira, are already “worshiper of God” (v.14). They need someone to show them the way to the truth of God through Gospel. We are placed in that office or class or campus for this very purpose: to seek out the “worshipers of God” and explain to them fuller the way of God through Jesus Christ.
May God help us to respond to the Macedonian call in the marketplace. Today, we need to re-think mission as going into the “10/40” window. We have to refocus on the “9/5” window of the marketplace. Billy Graham said: “I believe the next great moves of God is going to be through believers in the workplace.”
Will we respond to the Macedonian vision for the marketplace as the Spirit directs us into this unreached people group? Would you start an Alpha in your workplace?
Father God, You have called us to listen to the leadership of the Spirit in mission. But so often we are trapped by our outdated missiology to go east instead of being set free to obey Your Spirit to travel west. Deliver us from bondage to human methodology to re-align with the vision and strategy of the Holy Spirit. Amen.