The Macedonian Call
By: Jason H. Pierce
One of my favorite hymns is, “Send the Light,” by Charles Gabriel. The second verse of the song opens up with the line, “We have heard the Macedonian call today.” As a kid, I never really understood what that line meant. But, I sang it anyway – because the song has such a catchy tune. As an adult, I have come to appreciate the fact that the words of the song are much more important than the notes that we sing. So, what is the Macedonian call?
In Acts 16, Paul sets out on his second missionary journey – this time with Silas and Timothy in tow. Paul apparently had it in mind to preach the gospel in Asia, but Luke tells us that they were “forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia” (16:6). So, they journeyed on to Mysia with their sights set on preaching in Bithynia. But, again their plans were thwarted when “the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them” (16:7). Instead, Paul and company ended up in the city of Troas, where Paul experienced a vision from God. In the vision, a man from the region of Macedonia pleaded with him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us” (16:9-10). Paul interpreted the vision for what it was – a call for him to go and preach the gospel in Macedonia.
It is interesting that the churches that Paul would plant in Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea) would become some of Paul’s greatest supporters in future works. The Philippian church would support Paul financially when no one else would (Philippians 4:15-16). Paul told the Thessalonian church that they were “an example to all believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” and that word of their faith had “gone forth everywhere” (1 Thessalonians 1:7-8). Luke would describe the Bereans as being “noble,” receiving the gospel “with all eagerness,” and “examining the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11). In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul would use the great generosity of the Macedonian churches as motivation for the Corinthian Christians to become more faithful in their own giving.
The lesson that we learn from the Macedonian call is that it is vitally important that we always keep our eyes and hearts open to sharing the gospel. Sometimes, the most surprising people are the most receptive to the gospel. As far as we know, Paul had no intention of evangelizing Macedonia. He had set his sights on going other places (places God would later send Paul to evangelize). Yet, Macedonia turned out to produce some of the most fertile soil for the gospel message. Where are you prepared to send the light?