Jump Start # 2386
Romans 16:3-4 “Greet Prisca and Aquila my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles.”
Risk takers—we generally do not put that expression in the category of Christians. When we think of risk takers we think of extreme sports, mountain climbing, starting a business, auto racing, maybe even running for public office. But none of those are Prisca and Aquila. They weren’t paid to take these risks. They had no audience to applaud them when they finished. And, their risks were not about out doing someone in sports or setting a record, but rather, the greatest risks of all, the fight of faith.
It’s hard for us to understand passages like this. We’ve made things so safe and so comfortable that in some ways our faith is like sitting in an easy chair. We preach nice sermons to nice crowds. We don’t rock the boat and we don’t challenge folks enough to change their lives. We fill our Sundays with facts but sometimes very little faith.
There are four things that stand out about this amazing couple:
First, they both were workers in the kingdom. Paul called them, “Fellow-workers in Christ Jesus.” In Paul’s day, spiritual workers meant teaching, encouraging and strengthening faith. Missions in Bible times were about teaching the pure Gospel of Jesus, not building irrigation systems in foreign lands, working in hospitals, bringing shoes for those who were barefooted. Those are all great things, but don’t call them missions and don’t attach those to the church. In the first century, everyone had the same mission, spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Today, we hear of teen missions, senior missions, cooking missions, bike missions, education missions and they do everything and anything except teach the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. Prisca and Aquila were workers in the kingdom. Husband and wife team. Imagine a couple today working to teach a Bible class together. Imagine a couple today having young believers in their home to teach them about God and grow closer to each other. Fellow-workers, what a great expression.
Second, they risked their necks for Paul. They didn’t do this for themselves, but for Paul. Paul was a poor preacher. He couldn’t do anything more than tell them “thank you.” Here is a couple who embraced the compassion of Jesus Christ. It was the Lord who first left footprints about love and compassion. The Lord healed lepers and only one returned and thanked Him. The Lord cured the sick, and all they could do was to say “Thank you.” The Lord fed the multitudes. They didn’t pool their money together to pay for the meal. Once the spirit of compassion catches us, we don’t think about what will we get in return. We don’t think about ourselves. We want to help others and we will do all that we can to do that. Some will take risks for themselves, but not for others. This couple helped Paul.
Third, their risked their own necks. They put themselves in danger to do that. Those were dangerous times. Stephen was killed by a mob because he preached. The apostles James was killed. Antipas was killed. Peter was put in prison many times. Paul was beaten and stoned. The Hebrew brethren had their property seized. It wasn’t easy being a Christian. Helping leaders, such as Paul, put one in serious danger. To do this, they had to realize that their lives were not more important than Paul’s. And, they had to realize that the kingdom was more important than their lives. Death, doesn’t end things. Death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to us. Death only moves us out of here to be with the Lord. Nothing really changes. With that faith, they would risk their own necks. Interestingly, Paul puts both of them here. I could see the husband doing this, but protecting his sweet wife and keeping her safe from harms way. But the text doesn’t say that. They both risked their own necks. They were in this together. They were going to see this through.
Fourth, the good that they did not only helped Paul, but the Gentile churches. This is why Paul puts that tag at the end of these verses. Helping Paul helped the Gentile churches. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. Keeping him alive helped these congregations. This was more than just about Paul. This was bigger than just Paul. Paul was a key player and instrument in all of this, but there was so much more. And, here we are all these generations later, still talking, looking and thinking about these wonderful risk-takers.
Now, for us. Isn’t it time to untie the boat from the dock and take a few risks for the Lord. I don’t mean being controversial, because that’s not of the Lord. I’m not talking about embracing some radical idea. If it’s not in the Bible, it’s not right. No, isn’t it time we took some risks and looked at how we are doing?
- Maybe the traditional 13-week lecture format of Bible classes isn’t working these days. Maybe it’s time to try something different. Maybe it’s time to bring in more electronics into our teaching like they do in public schools. Maybe verse by verse, every Sunday, just isn’t connecting with people these days.
- Maybe shepherds ought to develop a plan to come to every member’s home at least once a year. Go where the sheep are.
- Maybe we need to preach less about what’s wrong with others and take a more serious look at where we are with the Lord.
- Maybe we ought to rely on the writings of others less and simply read our Bibles more (and that includes these Jump Starts).
- Maybe we ought to start a neighborhood Bible study in our homes.
- Maybe on a nice Sunday evening, we ought to put chairs in the parking lot and everyone go outside to sing so the community can see us and hear us.
- Maybe we ought to mentor men to become the next leaders in the congregation. Develop them, train them, help them. More than just training preachers, let’s train elders.
- Maybe we ought to do more with social media, since that is where the world is at these days.
- Maybe we ought to consider which is more helpful to people, more sermons or more classes.
- Maybe we ought to stop playing follow the leader with other congregations and do what our congregation really needs.
- Maybe we ought to take a few more risks…