I believe this passage serves as both an example of the purpose that Christ has for His church and on a more personal level why it is important to respond in faith to God’s call.
The passage starts out with the Holy Spirit sending Paul, Barnabas, and John out of the church in Antioch to spread God’s word. These men weren’t sure exactly what the purpose of their mission was at the outset but still they were faithful to calling of the Holy Spirit. Amazingly, they wind up in front of the Sergius Paulus, the ruler of all Cyprus. I say amazingly because these men had no political connections and were not well known in the region. Then just as they are about to proclaim the word of God, Elymas gets in the way and in doing so makes “crooked the straight paths of the Lord”. You get the feeling that this was all part of the plan as God turns the table and ends up using Elymas to bring Sergius to faith.
God’s purpose for the church, His “straight path”, is to spread the word of God and he will let nothing stand in the way of this mission. I can’t help but think of our upcoming mission trip to Belize. Those going don’t know exactly what God has in store for them but they can be assured that God will be with them every step of the way and will let nothing stand in the way of accomplishing His mission. I also can’t help think about the appropriateness of our church mission, “To know and share God’s love”. Our God is a searching and saving God and he calls on his faithful to act. You can hear God’s personal call to you through worship and prayer. Are you listening? Maybe God is calling you to teach Sunday school, help with the youth program, be an usher, make a meal for someone in need, or share your faith with a friend. Whatever the call, will you take that adventurous step in faith without knowing all the details? If you join God on the straight path he will clear the way.