“And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” (Acts 20:36–38).
There are certain things that happen when brothers and sisters develop a deep bond with each other in Christ. Not only has the Holy Spirit baptized us into one body, the church (1 Corinthians 12:13), but he has given us a common passion for the things of God. They are one-minded in the gospel. They refuse to allow petty things to come between them or disagreements to fester and linger unresolved. They esteem each other highly because of their value in Christ. Confronting is done when necessary, always in view of being true to Scripture and their bond in Christ.
As Paul left the Ephesian elders, he takes the lead in kneeling down to praying with them. Knowing that he would not see them again, I can imagine his fervent love and concern for their walk with the Lord and their steadfast faithfulness. These were not light matters! Paul prayed with tears as they all wept together. “They embraced Paul and kissed him” showing how real and mutual was their respect and appreciation for what he had invested in them. His departure was not easy for them, but Paul’s manner of life and ministry etched a specific character in their hearts that would never be forgotten.
How do we know this is true? When Jesus wrote to this church years later, He said, “ I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.” (Revelation 2:2–3). Where did they learn this from? Paul, their model!
Are you developing this kind of relationship among the leaders in your church or where God has called you? Superficial relationships will never further the work of God in the church or spread the gospel to the unreached. Mature relationships build strong churches and advance God’s work!
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