“Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time. Then he left the brothers and sisters and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchreae because of a vow he had taken. 19 They arrived at Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. He himself went into the synagogue and reasoned with the Jews. 20 When they asked him to spend more time with them, he declined. 21 But as he left, he promised, “I will come back if it is God’s will. ”Then he set sail from Ephesus. 22 When he landed at Caesarea, he went up to Jerusalem and greeted the church and then went down to Antioch.” Acts 18.18-22
Paul was a traveling man! In these five verses we find where Paul went from Corinth to Syria, via Ephesus, through Caesarea “up to Jerusalem” and then “down to Antioch.” He did much of the trip with Priscilla and Aquila, stopping at synagogues along the way to “reason with the Jews.” Upon arriving in Jerusalem he “greeted the church” then left for Antioch through modern day Syria into Turkey. (And I complain about putting miles on my truck!)
Paul traveled hundreds if not thousands of miles on this one trip. Most likely riding on a boat, horseback, donkey, and on foot. Sleeping out under the stars, or in tents, in homes of those friendly to the cause. Miles and miles on his feet, going through shoes, sandals or boots. Eating food cooked over a fire or in a clay oven. Watching out for bandits, robbers, thief’s or criminals. There is a reason they call it traveling because it comes from the word “travail” meaning ‘ordeal, a painful or laborious effort.’ And yet, Paul persisted in taking the good news to wherever the Spirit led.
The gospel requires mobility. I joking talk about my own weekly drive, but in truth, it’s pattern is based in Scripture, not only in Paul’s journeys but also in Jesus’ travels up and down Judea, through Galilee and up to Jerusalem. Jesus traversed the Holy Land many times for three years. When Jesus said “Go and make disciples,” he meant “go”! The early Methodist circuit riders, including Bishop Francis Asbury, was said to have put hundreds of thousands of miles on his horses while preaching the gospel.
However, it’s not the amount of miles that matters. Me driving a few hundred miles per week is no more important than you going across the street to a neighbor, down the road to the supermarket, across town to the homeless shelter or hospital. It’s not how far we go but that we do in fact go. And as we go, it’s the message of hope, love, grace and redemption that we bring. We are not only doing good deeds but we are bring the hope of Christ. Our going is essential to the growth of the church.
During this Lenten season, where can we go to the least, the last and the lost? Who needs us to show up on their doorstep or store front in order to bring a word of hope and a sign of peace?
Do not remain isolated. Take the love of God with you. Like Paul who traveled all over the ancient near east, let’s spread the word to all we meet this day.
“O Lord God, I thank you for the ability to make disciples, to encourage your church and to raise up leaders. Thank you that the word of God goes forth. The disciples did not remain looking up into heaven after you ascended but they went forth. You call us to do the same — to take the good news to all people. I love you Lord and praise your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen