After you take the time to read this post today, I’d love to hear your feedback. I ask because I’m starting to think I’m crazy. Seems everywhere I go, I get the same response from people, so perhaps I’m the one who is wrong.
So fire away.
I’ve written a bit lately about the Internet’s ire. Everyone seems angry. Everyone is mad at some heretic, petty or otherwise. Plenty of talk of wolves. Plenty of hand wringing.
In all of this tension, a few positives go lacking. I talked about one, loving one’s foes. This post is about one of the others.
From the Bible:
Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
I love that passage. It’s a gentle, godly, pastoral one. I wish it were the model for how we raise up leaders in the Church.
Here’s this Jewish fellow Apollos who is preaching Jesus. He’s a great speaker; people listen to him. He’s got charisma. Knows a few things about Jesus and passes them on fairly well.
Priscilla and Aquila stumble across Apollos and think he’s got potential. He’s mostly there, but he could use some polishing and needs to understand just a few more things more accurately in order to have the Faith down right.
So rather than correct him in front of everyone, this godly couple takes Apollos aside and better explains the ways of God so as to overcome the young man’s theological deficiencies. They take time to help their charge work out the kinks. They introduce him to the right Church crowd. And Apollos goes on to become such a heavy hitter that the Apostle Paul must later address the tendency of some to say that they are “of Apollos.” (I guess there were fanboys even back then.)
I keep thinking that if this situation existed today, Apollos would be torn to shreds on the Internet or have some book written by a name pastor/teacher denouncing him for those things he said that were not deemed perfect. The court of Christian public opinion would trumpet to the world that Apollos had theological problems here and there. Plus, he knew only John’s baptism at the time. The horror. 😉
Instead, we get Priscilla and Aquila. Thank God for them. Because of them, and because of God’s great mercy, the story went in a far better direction.
Priscilla and Aquila seem like a couple I’d love to hang with. I’m sure they could teach me many things, especially about the grace needed to see raw giftings and know how to refine them with tenderness and love.
Now comes the crazy Dan part.
I’ve questioned in a few forums why it is so easy for Christians with a national pulpit or some name recognition to scold rather than to draw alongside those younger Christians who own a strong voice but who may not have all the particulars down. Actually, scold is too lax a word. Most of the time the better word is brutalize, as that’s the kind of verbal beating meted out.
Priscilla and Aquila seem long forgotten, as if they have nothing to model for older, established, respected pastors/teachers with a national voice—or you and me for that matter. Better that we defend the Faith than actually mold raw people and win them to a better position.
Here’s what really gets me: When I suggest that it would be great if one of these older, established, respected pastor/teachers calls up the “Apollos of the moment” and asks to chat or even sit down over a few meals to work out how things could be done with greater adherence to Scripture and the leading of the Spirit, the mere hint of this kind of pastoral compassion sends people into fits. Such an idea seems like anathema to some, especially the fans of those respected pastor/teachers. They’ve already piled the wood and found a suitable stake.
I’m not stupid enough to believe that all of these almost-but-not-quite-there modern Apolloses are going to wind up corrected and perfect. Yet at the same time, why do I almost never hear of any of these older, established, respected pastor/teachers with a national pulpit reaching out as Priscilla and Aquila did to people they think are slightly off? Instead, out comes the nuclear option, and the public gets to see how much supposed Christians can really hate.
I wonder sometimes if all this constant clashing is only driving the bystanders to cross Christianity off their list of viable sources of truth.
Yes, sometimes we must wipe our feet of the dust of people who will not listen. But at the same time, I see a whole lot of dust-wipers and not a whole lot of Priscillas and Aquilas.