Selling Purple Cloth…for Jesus
A certain woman named Lydia, a worshiper of God, was listening to us; she was from the city of Thyatira and a dealer in purple cloth. The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly to what was said by Paul. When she and her household were baptized, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” And she prevailed upon us. – Acts 16:14-15 (NRSV)
My first Sunday in Bloomington, I signed up for a small group at First United Church. It met weekly for a year, which, at age 21, seemed like the most radical commitment to Christ one could make.
When we came to the story of Lydia, the curriculum taught that we can be faithful wherever we are. While Paul gets shipwrecked and thrown in jail for his evangelism, Lydia and her family are baptized and keep selling purple cloth. It’s enough, the book said, to do our work—whatever it is—faithfully.
“I don’t believe that!” I declared. “I think God wants something more. I think God wants us to give our whole lives to ministry!”
To their credit, no one called me an arrogant twerp. Instead, my pastor said, “If that’s what you’re hearing, maybe you should listen.”
Three months later I took my first job in ministry.
I’ve met a lot of faithful people doing a lot of different work since then. More importantly, I’ve learned that the passionate voice inside me (which can sometimes sound like an arrogant twerp) is rarely calling others to greater faithfulness.
I’ve learned to ask myself, “What are you hearing?” And remind myself, “Maybe you should listen.”
Passionate One, show me what it means to work faithfully today.
Vince Amlin is co-pastor of Bethany UCC, Chicago, and co-planter of Gilead Church Chicago, forming now.