by Tim Hall
It must be difficult to be a fading star. Those who have reached dizzying heights of fame never lack “friends.” Groupies clamor for signatures and photos, and the paparazzi make privacy rare. Later, though, when the star has cooled, the crowds find other celebrities to pursue and few ask for photos or autographs.
Paul’s life in Christ unfolded differently. When Paul first became a Christian, he met immediate opposition. He tried to hit the ground running, preaching Christ in the city in which he was baptized, Damascus. When a plot to murder him was made known, “… the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket” (Acts 9:25, NKJV). There’s no indication that anyone accompanied Paul as he stole through the darkness to escape the mob.
As one traces Paul’s activities through the book of Acts, his associates and helpers multiply. A close study of Luke’s record dispels any notion that Paul was a loner or that he had a harsh or bitter spirit. A note found in Acts 21 shows that Paul’s personality must have been attractive: “When we had come to the end of those days, we departed and went on our way; and they [the brethren in Tyre] all accompanied us, with wives and children, till we were out of the city. And we knelt down on the shore and prayed” (Acts 21:5). It was only after the apostle boarded the ship that “they returned home” (v. 6).
Those of us who have visited foreign lands for the kingdom’s sake have experienced the same. Though we may depart from airports late at night, numbers of brethren come to show their love. It is a fleeting glimpse of something Paul witnessed on numerous occasions.
Seeing these entourages of love should not surprise us. Jesus made a promise in response to Peter’s declaration that “we have left all and followed you.” The Lord said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time — houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands — with persecutions — and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:28-30). As we gaze upon these who come to bid us farewell — people to whom we were strangers just days before — we are reminded that God’s promises are true.
Sometimes the path we must travel for Jesus demands that we part with family or friends. But even as we leave all for the Lord, let us be assured that another entourage awaits. And love’s entourage will be there for us when no one else will.
by Tim Hall