Making Deep Connections
On a recent flight from Dallas to Seoul and then again from Birmingham to New Haven, I noticed that iPads, computers, and video screens have become the go-to tools passengers use to get through those hours of boring flight. It’s amazing. You can sit jammed between two people for hours and never talk. With earphones in the ears and eyes glued on the bright screen, who needs the tedium of a conversation with a stranger?
It’s one thing to isolate like this on a flight. It’s another thing to allow myself to get lost in this private impersonal world in normal daily life. As the Apostle Paul describes how he connected with others from his first step into Asia Minor in his farewell speech to the Ephesian elders, he was definitely not a pastor who isolated himself.
“From Miletus Paul sent to Ephesus and called to himself the elders of the church. When they arrived he said to them, ‘From the first day that I set foot in Asia you know how the entire time I lived with you closely. I served the Lord with humility and tears, facing the trials that happened to me because of the plots of the Jews. You know how I didn’t hesitate to preach anything that would help you. I taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews and Gentiles that they needed to repent and have faith in our Lord Jesus.” Acts 20:17-21
This is one of three public speeches made by Paul in the Book of Acts. He made one to Jews in the synagogue (Acts 13:16-41), a second to Gentiles in Athens (Acts 17:22-31), and now a third to Christian leaders from Ephesus (Acts 20:17-38). Because his audience is similar, this speech is the closest to what we read in Paul’s letters. Both here and in his letters, Paul models the humility, patience, and endurance in the face of intense opposition that it takes to get close to others. For Paul the content of his preaching was not what would bring him a good crowd, but what was needed to help others, and he didn’t just preach on Sunday morning. He was in homes during the week. He connected closely with the lives of others.
LORD, help me not to escape into a private world of high tech. Help me follow Paul’s example of living daily with others in humility and allowing them to get close. Thanks for the pastors I’ve met the last few months who are bringing people constantly into their own homes and are also going out into the homes of those they have been called to serve.
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