I’ll never forget our time in Guatemala in 2005. Kenneth and I were given the opportunity to go and share God’s love alongside missionaries who were serving there full-time.
Kenneth had never flown and was very nervous about it, but he agreed to go anyway. We stayed in a beautiful place in Antigua, then traveled with our group to villages each day to minister through medical care, clothing, food, and the Gospel, which was shared at the end of each day.
I could tell many God stories of events that took place, lives that were changed, hungry mouths that were fed. I could also share some funny moments that would make you laugh.
But what I want to share today is the power of serving God side by side with my spouse. I can honestly say that those are the moments that mean more in our marriage than anything else. I recall our serving as “pharmacists”–Kenneth’s counting out pills and my mixing cough syrup as we assisted the medical staff.
Side by Side for the Gospel
I can still see the children, the mamas and daddies, the hearts and tummies that were fed, the eyes that were opened, wounds healed. I can smell the scent of freshly-made tortillas, feel the sweat pouring down my back, hear the voices in phrases I could only barely understand in bits and pieces.
But what I remember most is Kenneth beside me, serving God, praying for the people, hands raised in worship.
We’ve done much together: raised two wonderful children, built a house, gone on vacations. But nothing connects us spiritually quite like the moments when we are contending for the Gospel side by side.
Today’s biblical woman just like us is Priscilla. I’ve always been intrigued by her story and wanted to know more.
How did you and Aquila meet? What was it like to be on the run from Rome? Did you enjoy tentmaking? How did you come to know Christ?
From what we do know in Scripture, Priscilla and Aquila served God together. She is never mentioned in the Bible apart from him. Surely, she had times on her own; but when it comes to work and service, they were one.
So, what can we learn from them about serving God well?
First, their home was not their own.
“After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.”Acts 18:1-4, NIV 84
When Paul arrived in Corinth, he met Aquila, who was a tentmaker. Because Paul also was trained in that skill, he worked with them. But don’t miss that he also stayed with them.
They opened their home to the missionary, giving him both a place to sleep, eat, and be refreshed and a place to work with his hands, to make a living, and to interact in the marketplace, thus making relationships and furthering his missionary work.
Sometimes we are willing to serve God in the public space, but we are not willing to open our homes. Priscilla and Aquila, however, knew their home was not their own. They not only opened it to host a missionary; they later planted a church at their home in Ephesus.
“The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings. Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.”1 Corinthians 16:19
This couple served God side by side, contending for the Gospel even at the cost of their own privacy and comfort. They considered their home belonged to God and offered it for the early Christians as a place of worship and discipleship in the body of Christ.
Second, their faith was not their own.
Priscilla and Aquila did not keep their faith to themselves. They were willing to share their understanding of the Word of God with others, no matter the cost.
“Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more accurately.”Acts 18:24-26
This passage is one about which I would love to ask many questions one day! What seems clear, though, is that Apollos knew who Jesus was through the preaching of John the Baptist. He knew that Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.
John’s baptism was one of repentance. But Jesus taught of the baptism in His name that is the result of faith in Him and His finished work on the cross (Matthew 28:19). Apparently, Apollos spoke the truth about Jesus, but didn’t understand that one must express faith in Jesus in order to be saved.
When Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak, they recognized this truth. Rather than call him out publicly or humiliate him, they took him home and explained the truth.
I’m sure they did it with as much grace and love because Apollos went on to help others as a result of their ministry to him (Acts 18:27-28). What a testimony of the faith, grace, and sacrifice of this couple who served God together as one!
Third, their lives were not their own.
Although Priscilla and Aquila had both a home and a business in Corinth, they packed their bags and followed Paul when he left there to go to Ephesus. They left everything behind to follow God.
“Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time, Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.”Acts 18:18
Wouldn’t you love to have such an eternal perspective that the things of this world couldn’t hold you back from wherever God leads?
God may be calling us to leave a paying job in order to stay home with our kids, but we fear the loss of income and our current way of life. God may be calling us to step out in ministry, but we know we would have to give up much of our time or security to do so.
God may even be calling us to leave behind everything we know and follow Him into the unknown. And it’s scary. Do we consider our lives our own? Or do we believe that He is ultimately in control of our lives anyway, so we may as well follow where He leads?
It may not be comfortable. It may even not be safe. I have a feeling that whenever we hear this next story one day in heaven, we may find out just how uncomfortable and risky this life chosen by Priscilla and Aquila really was.
“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.”Romans 16:3-4
The Bible gives us no more information about what happened. Apparently, it was well-known among the churches because they were all grateful for their sacrifice.
Whatever happened, this Christian couple was willing to stick their necks out for Paul at the risk of death. This witness of God through His servants Priscilla and Aquila is one I will be meditating on for a while.
I’ll be asking myself these questions:
Do I consider my home my own possession that I worked for and therefore can use as I see fit? The early church didn’t.
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions were his own, but they shared everything they had.”Acts 4:32
Do I consider my faith my own personal business between me and God? Paul didn’t as he demonstrated with his life and also in this letter to Philemon.
“I pray you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”Philemon 1:6
Do I consider my life my own to do with as I please?
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought with a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”1 Corinthians 6:19-20
This passage comes in the context of sexual sin, but the principle is the same: We are not our own. When we accept Jesus’ payment on the cross for our sins, we are acknowledging that we were bought with His blood. Our lives belong to God.
I don’t know about you, but Priscilla and Aquila’s testimony is such an encouragement to me. Whether you have a spouse to serve alongside you in ministry, or like Paul, you serve with the Lord at your side, you can consider that your home, you faith, and your life belong to Him.
Together, let’s serve Him well and be the example of sacrifice and faith that will bring Him glory and proclaim His kingdom throughout our world.
Even if He calls us to leave behind all we know to follow Him. It’ll be worth it.