The earliest Christians followed a Jewish tradition of pausing to pray, preferably together, first thing in the morning, about mid morning, at noon, about mid afternoon, and in the evening. “Just a Note” posts are brief observations made from Scripture readings not related to a lectionary. If I have one to post, it normally appears about 9:00 in the morning, at “the hour of prayer.”
Our shipwrecked prisoners, Christians and otherwise, had gained some level of favor with their guards. By the time they depart in Acts 28 the dynamic between prisoners and guards seems to be almost friendly. The group disembarks at Puteoli on the way to Rome. They are greeted by Christians and stay there for a week before continuing, apparently on foot. The Christians in Rome hear about the approach and send out representatives to greet them. We don’t know about the disposition of the other prisoners, but Paul is allowed to stay in a house with the soldier who is assigned to guard him. It is clear that Paul is not considered a risk.
This kind of relationship is built through mutual respect. Although the roles are different - prisoners and guards - the experience of the voyage, the shipwreck, the ministry of Paul on the isand, and all else they endured in the winter has built a trusting relationship.
In much of Christian ministry, we find ourselves working with people hwo are very different. There may well be significant cultural barriers, educational differences, and any number of issues of background and experience which would interfere with communication. However, a consistent focus on the heart and center of the Christian message, Christ crucified for sinners, will break down most of these barriers. When that is our strategy, the personal differences are merely personal. Our arguments can pertain to actual values, doctrine, and application, rather than on personal attacks. This is something we have largely lost in American Christianity. We desperately need to recover it.
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