“Begin Again”: A Weekly Devotional for a New Year, Week 44

“After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.”

Acts 18:1-4

Sometimes the Christian Faith sounds like it floats far above ordinary life. In the New Testament, we hear about people we admire – even people we think we should imitate. But we also wonder if that’s possible: “That world sounds amazing, and those leaders sound brave, but I’m just not sure how that all fits into my day to day life.” I would bet that this feeling is especially true when we read about the early church in the Book of Acts.

In Acts, we see a church that bursts onto the scene, and goes forth in the power of the Spirit: Pentecost, new churches, new leaders, big disputes, exorcisms! In almost every age, people who longed for the church to be revived, went to the Book of Acts in order to measure their churches against the early church: “Do we have the same convictions? The same experiences? The same results?” Leaders who wanted a revived, thriving church in their age, often asked questions like these because they were driven to ask them – the conditions on the ground were so bad, that they couldn’t ignore them.

My sense is that we are at a similar turning point. I don’t have to rehearse for you how difficult the past few years have been. And – really – the difficulties go back about a generation, or more. Church leaders, now, often hear this: “There used to be so many people in worship.” “We didn’t used to be so divided”. “Church was at the center of our lives, and our families and kids grew up in that world.” There are all sorts of reasons why we are, where we are.

When we’re stuck, and we feel that – maybe – we can’t live the life described in the Bible, then we have a problem. Perhaps the best place to start is a hint we get in the story from Scripture, above: Paul was a tentmaker. Did you know that? I’m not sure many people do. We often think of Paul as driven, prophetic, a mystic, zealous, and self-sacrificial, and he was all of those things. But he was also a tentmaker, and worked alongside other tentmakers. He had a job. Just like you, probably. Just like me. Just like most of us.

Consider, again, what you do in the world as one of the places where God may have great things for you to do and be. Where you work might also be the place and the people, that you are supposed to connect with, as Paul did with Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth. Perhaps those are your people, whom God has called you to stay and work with and to persuade that God is good, and full of grace, and that he means for them to see his goodness in the land of the living – in the land of our working lives.

Prayer: Father, I often struggle to see how my life can be like the lives of the people I hear about in the Bible. And I wonder if the many different parts of my life can fit together in the picture of knowing and loving You. Help me, Lord, to see how I can love, serve and connect with the people I work with – that’s a big part of my life, and I believe You’re in that and that you want me to love and serve them in your Name. Amen.

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