At the end of his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul thanks those who worked quietly behind the scenes. Without these men and women, Paul’s ministry journeys would not have been possible or successful. Beginning with a deaconess and woman who opened her home as a congregational meeting place, Paul wanted to ensure that their contributions were not minimized or overlooked. Unlike the gospels where woman and children are excluded from the overall count of individuals present, Paul places women first on his list.
Now I introduce and commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, 2 That you may receive her in the Lord [with a Christian welcome], as saints (God’s people) ought to receive one another. And help her in whatever matter she may require assistance from you, for she has been a helper of many including myself [shielding us from suffering]. 3 Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 Who risked their lives [endangering their very necks] for my life. To them not only I but also all the churches among the Gentiles give thanks, Romans 16:1-4.
In another letter to the church at Galatia, Paul breaks down his entire life into three stages. Galatians 1:11-24 serves as an outline for sharing your faith by detailing your life before knowing Jesus, your conversion experience and transformation since making this decision. While every faith story contains peaks and valleys, portions of your testimony will connect with or touch other souls. One of Jesus’ disciples urges first century Christians to be prepared, always ready to provide the reason for the hope that you have in God, 1 Peter 3:15-16.
[Remember me] also to the church [that meets] in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was a firstfruit (first convert) to Christ in Asia. 6 Greet Mary, who has worked so hard among you. 7 Remember me to Andronicus and Junias, my tribal kinsmen and once my fellow prisoners. They are men held in high esteem among the apostles, who also were in Christ before I was. 8 Remember me to Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. 9 Salute Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, that one tried and approved in Christ (the Messiah). Remember me to those who belong to the household of Aristobulus, Romans 16:5-10.
As I turn our attention toward today, I’m curious about what modern writers might say. Would you receive a shout out like Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila or be out-shined by other believers? As you go to work, reside in a neighborhood and let your guard down at home, what do people notice? According to my children, I drive too fast, I’m impatient and too opinionated. Are your daily actions full of light or do moments of darkness blur the love of Jesus inside of you? The book of Acts ends abruptly. Some scholars suggest that either the final chapter was never fully completed or simply missing. When judgement day arrives, what will God say about you? Only time will tell so make the most of the days that the Lord gives you.
by Jay Mankus