On Wheel of Fortune, what are the five letters contestants receive for free at the beginning of the final puzzle? Did you say, “RSTLNE”? If so, you’re right! Why does Wheel of Fortune give people those letters? It’s because they are the most commonly used letters in the English language.
Now let’s combine that with Jeopardy. I’m going to give you the most common answers to a question, and you tell me what the question is. The category is “Christianity,” and this is the $2000 Double Jeopardy question. Well, actually, I think you’ll find it an easy one, so maybe it is just the $400 question. Here is the answer:
Pray. Read your Bible. Go to Church.
What is the question?
How do you become a stronger Christian?
Did you guess that? To answer how you become a stronger Christian, what I suggested above are the most common answers for a reason. We teach them to our kids because they are very important, and whether young or old, Christians would do well to practice those habits on a regular consistent basis. The problem is that there are times in our lives as disciples of Jesus when we feel stuck. Maybe we’re not practicing the basics and we could be. But maybe it is something else. Maybe it is fear.
Are there fears holding you back? If you’ve ever felt even a touch of that, you’re not alone. When you’re in one a dry spell or struggle with fears, what should you do? How do you become a stronger Christian? How do you grow in your faith?
Turn to Acts 18, as we see that there are other ways to go stronger in the faith. We have been following the 2nd missionary journey of Paul, and in Acts 18, we’ll see how the trip concludes with Paul’s last major stop, which we read about in Acts 18 verse 1.
That last major stop is the city of Corinth. To get from Athens (where we last left Paul) to Corinth, Paul could either travel by land or by sea, each route about 50 miles. Corinth was a major city at the time, with a possible population of 250,000 free persons and 400,000 slaves. It was situated at a significant crossroads for travelers and commerce. There were at least 12 temples in the city, and perhaps the most famous, or infamous, was the temple to the goddess Aphrodite, which included a practice of temple prostitution. Historians note that at one time there were 1,000 sacred prostitutes serving at the temple. It is probably no surprise, then, that in Corinth immorality was the norm. In fact the word “Corinth” became a verb, “to corinthianize,” which meant “to practice sexual immorality.”
Quite the place, huh? Let’s continue reading verses 2 and 3 to see what Paul will do there.
Paul makes some new friends, Aquilla and Priscilla. In verse 2 we learn about a situation that is recorded in the ancient history books, “because of tumults caused by Chrestus,” Jews were forced to leave Rome. Who is Chrestus? Christ! What tumults did Christ cause? Well, if you review Paul’s adventures in Acts, we’ve studied a number of times he faced riots and upheaval in cities because he preached Christ. Is it possible that is what the Roman Caesar reacted to? Possibly! So it wasn’t Christ in person, but it was the Christian movement that led to the deportation of the Jews from Rome. But that is curious, isn’t it? Why would the Caesar kick the Jews from Rome, when it was Christian preaching that led to tumult? It could be that the Romans didn’t distinguish between the two groups, especially when you consider that Christianity came out of Judaism. Or perhaps it was simply that it was the Jews who so strongly reacted against Christianity. Either way, Aquilla and Priscilla have to leave, and they move to Corinth.
There Paul has a special connection with Aquilla and Priscilla because they share the same profession, tent-making, which mostly likely involved sewing animal skins together. In our day, we would say they were leatherworkers, making more than tents. Think canopies, awnings, tarps, bags, etc.
This word “tent-making” is used in missionary lingo today, referring to people who live and minister bi-vocationally in a different culture, particularly in nations where it is difficult or impossible to get a visa for Christian ministry. That’s exactly what Paul, Aquilla and Priscilla were doing in Corinth. What will they do in addition to working with leather? Check back in to the next post, and we’ll find out.