Acts 19:1-3 (New Living Translation)
Then Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he became acquainted with a Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, who had recently arrived from Italy with his wife, Priscilla. They had left Italy when Claudius Caesar deported all Jews from Rome. Paul lived and worked with them, for they were tentmakers just as he was.
Every year in the town where I grew up, thousands of people strap on their running shoes to compete in “The Boilermaker,” a 15-kilometer road race. Over the 35+ years of its existence, running clubs all around the Central New York area have sprung up, as people prepare together for the race. There is something inspiring about training with a group of people who have a similar goal. The runners share tips and strategies, commiserate about their struggles, and encourage each other to keep on running. People tend to be more motivated when they have someone urging them on!
In every town the apostle Paul visited, he found like-minded people to work alongside him. When he arrived in Corinth, he connected with Aquila and Priscilla. We learn in today’s verses that Paul was a tent-maker by profession, the same as this couple. They had been ejected from Rome along with other Jews by the Roman emperor Claudius, and had set up shop in Corinth. They would become part of Paul’s intimate group of friends — people who supported each other and helped each other stay true to the faith.
That is one of the (many) gifts of community. When we make the effort to invest in relationships, amazing things happen. When we’re excited to learn more about God, when we’re doing well and full of joy — that’s when the people who love us celebrate with us. When we become distracted or weary — that’s when people who know us can give us a much needed boost. When we’re tempted to take the easy way out instead of doing the hard work of following God’s path — that’s when people who care for us can hold us accountable and remind us why the effort is well worth it. When we’re struggling or worried or frightened or confused — that’s when it is wonderful to have people walking alongside us, loaning us their strength.
If you’re not already in a small group at your church, I would really, really, really encourage you to look into it! We’re all running this race of life, and it is such a blessing to run closely along with people who know you, love you, study with you, and pray for you. Don’t miss this amazing opportunity!
Are you currently in a small group? Have you considered being in a small group?