The Message, Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase, wraps up this part of the narrative nicely: “Things calmed down after that and the church had smooth sailing for a while. All over the country—Judea, Samaria, Galilee—the church grew. They were permeated with a deep sense of reverence for God. The Holy Spirit was with them, strengthening them. They prospered wonderfully.”
They didn’t need Paul. In Tarsus he had the time to learn that he needed them. It wasn’t about independence. It was about his discovering the value of dependence. Tragically, some never learn.
This is a good time to pause and make a twenty-century jump to today. Learn to appreciate and embrace the value of other people. Don’t try to go out there on your own. Rather than viewing others around you as hindrances, become aware of their value. Remind yourself that they play a strategic role in your survival and your success. God rarely asks us to fly solo. When He leads us to soar the heights, there is safety in others soaring with us.
God has designed His family to be that sort of support network for all of us. Nobody can handle all the pressure over the long haul. Companionship and accountability are essential!
You may be resisting becoming an active member of a church or enrolling in a small-group fellowship at your church. You think you can go it alone, and so far your plan has worked. But it’s only a matter of time before a gust of adversity knocks you off your feet, and you’ll need someone to pick you up. Don’t let a stubborn spirit of independence rob you of the joy of sharing your life, your weaknesses, your failures, and your dreams with others. You and I are not indispensable. You and I are not irreplaceable. God is both. It’s His church. He’s looking for broken vessels, wounded hearts, and humble servants, even those with bad track records who have some scars, who have learned not to hide them or deny them—people who understand and appreciate the value of others. Is that you?