A Great Family
(1) After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth.
(2) And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them,
(3) and because he was of the same trade he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.
A sixteen year-old boy came home with a new Chevrolet Avalanche. His parents began to yell and scream, "Where did you get that truck?" He told them, "I bought it today." "With what money?" demanded his parents. They knew what the truck cost and how little the boy had.
"Well," said the boy, "I paid fifteen dollars for it." So the parents began to yell even louder. "Who would sell a truck like that for fifteen dollars?" "It was the lady up the street," said the boy. “I don't know her name. They just moved in. She saw me ride past on my bike and asked if I wanted to buy a Chevrolet Avalanche for fifteen dollars." "Oh my Goodness!," moaned his mother, "She must be a child abuser. Who knows what she will do next? John,” she said to her husband, “You go right up there and see what is going on." So the boy"s father walked up the street to the house where the lady lived and found her out in the yard planting petunias.
He introduced himself as the father of the boy to whom she sold a new truck for fifteen dollars and asked why she did it.
"Well," she said, "I thought my husband was on a business trip, but I learned last night that he had run off to Hawaii with his mistress and does not intend to come back. This morning I got a phone call from him. He does not know that I know. He claimed he was stranded and needed cash, and asked me to sell his new Chevrolet Avalanche and send him the money. So I did."
Wow. That is a family that is probably broken beyond repair, and I do not mean the family of the kid with the truck.
Let us talk about families today. Families need a lot of love and care. At Christmas time many years ago, I saw a Charlie Brown comic strip in which Lucy walks up to Charlie Brown and says, "Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown. `Tis the season of peace on earth and good will toward men. Therefore, I suggest we forget all our differences and love one another." Charlie Brown's face lights up at this. He says, "That’s wonderful, Lucy. I’m so glad you said that. But tell me, do we have to love each other only at this season of the year? Why can’t we love each other all year long?" To which Lucy replied, "What are you, a fanatic or something?"
Today on this 3rd Sunday in June we are about as far from Christmas as we can get, but maybe we all ought to be “a fanatic or something” when in comes to loving one another.
Families especially need lots of love. God intended for the Christian life to be lived in a set of relationships that we might call family relationships.
In Acts 18, we see such a family, a devout husband and wife, worshipping and serving God together. We are told in verse one that Paul came from Athens to Corinth, a distance of about 50 miles. He probably walked. Corinth was an ancient city, but it was destroyed by the Romans in 146 BC. It was restored again by Julius Caesar in 46 BC as a Roman colony. When Paul came there in the middle of the first century AD, it was the capital of the province of Achaia and the chief commercial city of Greece.
Verse 2 tells us that in Corinth Paul met Aquila and Piscilla. These are interesting folks. We learn that Aquila was born in Pontus, which was a Roman province in what is now Turkey. But he and his wife had been living in Rome, and both Aquila and Priscilla are Latin names. So apparently they had lived in Rome for some time, long enough to become Romanized, but they had been cast out by the Edict of Claudius which expelled the Jews from Rome.
This edict is interesting. Let me back up a bit to explain what happened. We know that a significant Jewish population existed in Rome as early as 61 BC, when Jewish captives were taken to Rome by Pompey to celebrate the conquest of Judea. Most of the descendants of these slaves became liberated in various ways and continued to live in the city.
Next, Christianity probably reached Rome fairly quickly. Rome was the capital of the empire. Everything tended toward Rome. In all likelihood by the mid thirties Jewish Christians had brought the Gospel to the city. They introduced Christ into the Jewish community there, which led to the same disputes and disruptions that effected other cities with Jewish communities where those who followed the law clashed with those who followed the gospel. The Roman historian Suetonius reports that during the reign of Claudius, "Because the Jews in Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he (Emperor Claudius) expelled them from the city." Suetonius was a pagan Roman who knew little about Judaism and less about Christianity. The “Chrestus” Suetonius refers to is probably a misspelling of “Christ.” Suetonius refers to the Edict of Claudius, dated 49 AD, in which Jews, both non-Christian and Christian, were expelled.
During this persecution, Aquila and Priscilla were forced out of Rome and eventually wound up in Corinth. We should note that they were already Christians. They were not converted by Paul. They may have been founding members of the church at Rome. Paul met them years later, around 52 AD.
Then we read in v3, that because Paul was of the same trade as they were, he stayed with them and worked with them. They were all tentmakers. People had to make a living in that day, just as they do today. Paul was sometimes helped by churches in his missionary activities and sometimes he was not. In this case, he was obviously on his own, so he lived with and worked with Aquila and Priscilla.
This was a family, husband, wife, and their live-in friend, Paul. This is a family under pressure. We do not know why Aquila moved from Pontus to Rome. Perhaps he was just seeking better business opportunities. But he and his wife were forcibly expelled from Rome. That had to be tough.
Familes today are under incredible pressure from without, and from within. Stress and tension are a huge part of the home today with the pressures of work, time, and finances. But we find a note of hope in the story of Aquila and Priscilla. They are a family under pressure, but they are also a family under providence. God was working on their problems. God was in the process of bringing something wonderful into their lives.
We do not know what they lost when they were kicked out of Rome--probably quite a lot, business, home, everything. They felt really bad about that, down and depressed. They may have felt that arriving in Corinth was the worst day of their lives, but in God's providence, it was the best day of their lives. Maybe we ought to remember this the next time things are not going well for us. Perhaps God is just leading us on a greater opportunity. In Corinth, they met and worked with the Apostle Paul.
Imagine what that was like. As I mentioned, they were all tentmakers. So they are sitting around sewing tents, and they talk. What do they talk about? I suppose they talked about many things. For one thing, they talk about the work—the material for the tents, the patterns, etc. Then they talked about friends and acquaintances like we all do. But above all, they talked about Jesus. They shared the wonderful story of the gospel…of Jesus’ birth, His life and ministry, His death and resurrection. And this sharing was a spiritual blessing to every member of this little impromptu family.
That leads us to the first thing any family needs. The family needs a spiritual dimension. Our families need God.
Furthermore families that have God become families that serve. Everything we read about this Aquila and Priscilla is about them serving God together. Some years later Paul writes in Romans 16:3-5
(3) Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus,
(4) who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well.
(5) Greet also the church in their house.
Apparently by this time, by the time Paul wrote Romans, the edict of Claudius has been cancelled and Priscilla and Aquila have gone back to Rome. Paul mentions also in these verses a time when they risked their lives to save his life. We wish we knew more about that, but we do not.
So what happened with Aquila and Priscilla? The same thing that ought to happen to each and every one of us… Regardless of our occupation, regardless of what we do for a living, our main business is God’s business. Our main business is Worshipping and serving God. We are to teach others about God and help each other as we can.
And note that the last verse that I read, v5, mentioned that Aquila and Priscilla now have a church meeting in their house. Before the third century AD, the church had no buildings. The church was outlawed or on the edge of the law, and mostly met in secret. That meant that the church met in houses of church members. Aquila and Priscilla had a great home and a great family. Their church was their home and their family. Your church should be your home and family.
So now I would like to focus on some practical ways for making your home your church. These are tips for Christian family living.
Tip #1: Understand each other
How many of you own a cellphone or computer or DVR that has features that you do not know how to work or use? There is a difference between owning something and understanding how it works. 1 Peter 3:7 states “Husbands live with your wives in an understanding way.” Husbands are directly instructed to understand wives. Now I know some husbands who would say that it is easier to understand quantum physics than wives. However that may be, husbands are commanded to “live with your wives in an understanding way.” Now while that verse is directly addressed to husbands it can be applied to other relationships as well. We should all try to be more understanding. What does that mean? It means to make what is important to the other person important to us. How do we do that? We listen to them. I believe it was Yogi Berra who said, “You can hear an awful lot by just listening.”
Tip #2: Keep commitments
There is an old saying: “Generous with praise, cautious with promises.” Parents need to do everything they can to keep promises they make to children. Spouses need to do everything they can to keep their promises to each another. Children should taught to keep their promises. Because we all tend to construct our hopes around promises. When the wedding couple promise to love each other until death they do part, that gives security to the marriage. Our hopes and expectations are founded on commitments.
Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 “When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.” In other words, if we make a promise to God, keep that promise. Otherwise, do not promise at all. Do not say things that you are not going to do. Commitments build trust. Without trust, there can be no such thing as a healthy relationship Trust is the firm foundation upon which a family is built.
Tip #3: Respect
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. is not just something Aretha Franklin sang about. It is something all of us in any relationship want. In fact it is impossible to have an important relationship with another person when there is no respect. Another word for respect is “honor.” Romans 12:10 states that as Christ followers we are to take delight in honoring each other. We are to enjoy honoring another person. It is our pleasure to do this because it boosts their feeling of value.
How can we show that we are honoring the people in our family relationships?
· By respecting each other’s property
· By respecting each other’s privacy
· By respecting each other’s time
Why do people have difficulty respecting others, because of an inflated idea of their own importance. Some folks think it is all about them. They only respect themselves. They never get it. Philippians 2:3-4 reads, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Tip #4: Offer encouragement
This is the easiest way to grow a healthy relationship. We live by encouragement, we die without it, slowly, sadly and angrily. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, says, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
It begins with a smile. There is an old saying: “Smile. It is the second best think you can do with your lips. I will leave you to figure out what the best think is. Encourage each other with a smile. A smile not only increases your face value, but it warms the heart of those around you.
Back up the smile with words. Someone noted, "Man doesn’t live by bread alone. He also needs buttering up." Always point out the positive.
Andrew Carnegie was a Scottish-American industrialist, businessman, and entrepreneur who founded US Steel. A reporter once asked him why he hired 43 millionaires to work for him. Carnegie replied that those people were not millionaires when he hired them. The reporter then asked, “How did you develop them to become so valuable to you that you paid them so much money?” Carnegie replied that people are developed the same way gold is mined. When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold; but you don’t go into the mine looking for dirt – you go in looking for gold.
We need to start looking for gold in other people especially those in our families. And encourage them with the gold we find in their lives.
I saved the best tip for last. Sometimes people closest to you disappoint you, sometimes people closest to you hurt you. Here is a gem of wisdom for all families. Overlook a lot a stuff. Grow a thick skin and do not worry about it. Amen.
If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant
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