Why do some believe but not others?
Perhaps you would like to become a committed Christian but something’s holding you back? Maybe you’ve been praying for someone to become a Christian, but they still don’t believe? The true story of Lydia’s coming to faith helps us to understand why some believe but others don’t (yet!).
The Apostle Paul, along with a few others, went to Philippi, “a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia” (Acts 16:12). On the Sabbath they went outside the city gate to find a place of prayer and people to tell about Jesus. They met a woman called Lydia. She was from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth (and therefore probably very wealthy!). She was also “worshipper of God” (16:14). That means she was a Gentile who believed and behaved like a Jewish person but hadn’t become one. The remarkable thing about Lydia is the speed at which she came to faith. Paul explained the gospel and she believed it there and then. How did she come to faith so fast? It was because, “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14). It was God’s Spirit moving in her heart that led her to faith.
Lydia believed because God ‘opened her heart’. Coming to faith always requires this kind of divine intervention. We see this in John 6:65 where Jesus says, “…no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.” When Peter said, “You are the Christ”, Jesus replied, “Blessed are you… for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” (Matt. 16:16-17).
What does this mean for us? First, if you believe in Jesus then thank God for the gift of faith. Second, if you want to believe, pray and ask God to ‘open your heart.’ You need God’s help so ask for it. It is a prayer God loves to answer! Third, if you would like to see someone else become a Christian, pray and ask God to open their heart like he opened yours. He has the power to do it so ask him!
Over the coming months we will have lots of services that provide an ideal opportunity for you to invite someone to church. There’s the Harvest Service and lunch (Oct 21st), Remembrance Sunday (Nov 11th) and lots of Christmas services too. Each of these services will be designed to be as welcoming and accessible to the non-regular church goer as possible. So ask God to give you the opportunity to invite someone along, then ask them, and pray that God will open their heart to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Revd. Matt Williams
Vicar, St. Paul’s Church
Like us at www.facebook.com/stpaulschurchcanfordheath.