November 9, 2017

Friends in the Faith

November 9, 2017


Acts 16:16-40

Psalm 85:4-13

This week’s sermon text: Romans 14:13-23

Acts 16 reminds us that relationships when one person has power over another are not healthy. Community cannot happen when one person uses another for monetary enrichment. Paul encounters a slave girl being exploited by her owners because she had a “spirit of divination” and was able to tell fortunes. Paul calls on the evil spirit in the name of Christ Jesus to leave her, and she is no longer a source of income for her owners.

Paul is flogged and jailed for his troubles, but he opens the door to Christ’s community everywhere he goes. He is locked in the most secure cell and his feet are in stocks, but he and his companions begin to sing hymns, and the other prisoners listen. When the earthquake hits, and the chains fall off, they are bound to each other in love of Christ, and no one leaves. The jailer, who is about to fall on his sword, thinking he has failed and the prisoners escaped, is astounded. His own household is baptized, and he sits down at the table with those he had expected to keep in chains.

Another image in v. 40 is Lydia’s home. She also entered into the church community through the baptism of her whole household (Acts 16:15). After her baptism, she offered hospitality to Paul and his companions, and it is to her household that they return when they are freed from jail.

One more point in this story: Paul knows the value of citizenship. In the face of his precious right to due process, the authorities must backtrack and apologize. Paul in Eph 2:19 (and again in Phil 3:20) reminds us of an even more valuable citizenship possessed by all who follow Christ: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.”


  • How are friends in faith different from other friends?
  • In what ways can we practice hospitality as missionary work?


  • What do you think it would be like to be a missionary in another country? Which country would you go to? Why?
  • How can we be missionaries at home?

Loving God, you have made us members of your household. Give us courage to live even now as citizens in your reign and stand up for those who are mistreated. Give us voices that sing your praise in the forsaken places of the earth, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.