Acts 16:13-15 (NIV)
13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.15 When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.
As we get back to our study of Acts, we run into this wonderful story about one of the early founders of the church in Philippi, a woman named Lydia. That a woman took a leadership role must have shocked Paul. After all, in his vision (see 16:6-10) he saw a man asking for help. When he arrived in Philippi and went outside of town to a place of prayer, I’m sure he was looking for that guy from his vision…or any guy for that matter. But he found, instead, Lydia.
Taking his cue from Jesus, Paul crossed cultural and gender boundaries and respectfully shared the gospel with her. Upon conversion, she offered to start a house church in her home, but Paul wasn’t convinced. And, with a bit of humor I believe, Luke says she persuaded them.
I know it has been said in the past (and still by some today) that Christianity is a male-chauvinistic, sexist religion. I read a feminist theologian the other day who insists we change “Jesus Christ” to the female version “Jesa Christi”… otherwise salvation for women won’t be possible! And, honestly, from the history of the church there is some anecdotal evidence to support this patriarchal church theory. But you certainly can’t support it from the pages of the Bible.
From the creation account in Genesis, to the Gospels and the Epistles, women play a central role in God’s plan of redeeming the planet and in the body-life of the church. Their roles may be different than men’s, but they are just as important.
28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:28-29, NIV).
Thank God for the salvation he offers ALL of us.