Each day we start school with a passage from Acts. Maylee has started a new trend exclaiming, “I hate Acts! I love Acts!” whenever it is time to read it. I feel ya, May.
I begin by asking the girls, “What do you think will happen to Paul today?”
“He’ll probably get beat up again!” “Stoned!” “Put in jail!”
“Nope. Not today. Today, something even worse happens. Today, Paul sets out to find a quiet place to pray and get some peaceful Sunday rest with his two best theological buddies and finds…women. The horror.
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. 14 One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. ~Acts 16:13-16
“Did Paul chase the women away and claim the prayer territories for him and the boys?”
“Did he avoid the women who were so obviously there waiting for instruction on the scriptures and go somewhere more suitable for him and his buddies?”
“Did he start praying and try to ignore the women who were right in front of him as best he could?”
“What did he do?”
“He talked to ’em.”
Yep. The text says he spoke to the women. He taught the gospel and led at least one of them to the Lord. Then, she and her whole family got baptized. Afterward, she invited he and his friends to her home and they went. They stayed.
How sketchy that mighta looked, huh?
But these guys were more interested in doing right than in looking right. Reluctantly, and after much persuasion, they agreed to go to Lydia’s home.
Paul honored the women he encountered. He sacrificed his own agenda and well-deserved repose for them. He respected them without avoiding or ignoring them. He conversed with them, visited them, and even stayed in one of their homes with a pure heart and a clear conscience.
That’s quite different than a man saying he respects and honors women as he covers his eyes, walks five blocks out of their way, and hides in the basement with his bible and his buddies. But that doesn’t happen, does it? How silly of me.
I do wonder what would happen today if a group of women held their bible study in a place they knew all the leading men in the church frequented. I wonder what its like to purposefully position yourself as closely as possible to the teachers hoping to retrieve the crumbs of their off-camera wisdom. I wonder if the leading men of the church today would converse freely with the inquisitive women? Would they be avoided? Ignored? Acquiesced when offering a persuasive invitation? Would there be segregation in our so-called progressive world? Would there be obvious, unspoken separation between folks stemming from things such as fear, pride, insecurity, and impurity? I wonder.
I wonder what it’s like to be a successful, spiritual, assertive, intelligent woman like Lydia – asking to be friended and taught by successful, spiritual, assertive, intelligent men.
Well, I suppose I really couldn’t say for sure. I really don’t know much about studying the Bible, religious hubs, or weird dynamics between men and women in the church today, but if I did, I’d venture to bet Paul, Luke, and Silas might just be standing alone on this one.
I hate Acts. I love Acts. At least no one got beat up today.