“They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city….strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true in the faith.” Acts 14: 19-20, 22
Being a Christian was a hard thing Paul’s time. It was a new concept that rubbed wrong in comparison to the world’s philosophy of “get what you can no matter what” and “the ends justify the means”. Love your enemy as yourself? Give unto others? Give someone else control over my life? Not easily accepted.
Today, being a Christian can be tough as well, though I hope you never are beaten and dragged out f a city. In parts of the world, Christians still are. But you may be beaten down by the worldly values your co-workers, neighbors, or even some family members practice. You will be dragged into situations that test your faith. You need encouragement and strength to stand firm in your faith today just as the disciples of the first century did. You need disciples of Christ to gather around you, just as they did Paul.
Christianity is based on two relationships – you and God, and you and others. The cross is vertical, reaching towards God, and horizontal , reaching out to others to spread the Word and be His examples. As Christ stretched out His arms on the cross, so we are called to reach out to others in need, Christians as well as those who are yet to believe. Our strength comes from Christ, yes, but He encourages us to also band together. While on the earth, did Jesus send his disciples out alone? No, they were sent out in pairs. He stated when two or three ever gather in His name, He will be in the midst of them. That is not to say you can’t have a one-on-one with our Lord, but we need other faithful around us to guide, strengthen, confirm and, if need be, correct our path.
Gather around you good Christian friends. Worship together, pray for each other and support each other’s battles in this earthly life. Share each other’s joy and hold each other in times of pain. It makes all the difference. When your strength is low, they will boost you up. And vice versa. There is strength in numbers.
Dearest Lord, Even though you died alone on the cross and bore our sins, you had two or three gathered at your feet until the end. Bring to each of us good Christian friends who will gather at Your feet along side of us and worship you, lift each other up, and strengthen each other’s walk. Encourage us to pray together, laugh and rejoice together, and cry together. We know You will be there in our midst until You call us all home to live together in eternity. Amen.
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Colossians 3:16
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” James 5:16