Acts 27

“The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for.”Acts 27:3 ESV

Isn't it great that there are so many different personality types in this world? You have people like my friend Ben, who are the epitome of extroverts. They walk into the room, and are the life of the party. Then, you have people like my wife, Annie. She is more of the introverted type. As she listens to conversations intently, she may not talk often, but when she does, it really counts.  And then there’s people like me. Sometimes we are extroverted, sometimes we are introverted, and half the time we are somewhere in the middle. I think the official term is ambivert - and it fits me to a T.

Ambivert, extrovert, introvert, we all fall somewhere along the scale. Yet, something that I find interesting, is that regardless of our personality type, we all crave community. All of us, regardless of age, or culture, or country, need other people. And recently, I was reminded of this.

It was a normal Saturday – nothing too unusual. Yet that morning as I woke up and began to get ready for church, I realized that I couldn’t open my jaw. It was like someone had superglued my mandible, and the pain was crazy. Thankfully however, I had a solution. 

I remembered the words of my friend Dr. Rick, a chiropractor, who goes to our church.. Something that Dr. Rick has always told me, is that if I needed an emergency adjustment, he was always a call away. So that Saturday, that’s just what I did and took him up on his offer, I called him, and no less than an hour later he met me and I was back to 100%. Since all of this happened, the question that has kept coming to my mind is, “What would I have done if I didn't have my friend Dr. Rick?”

How would my jaw have been fixed? How would I have shared at church? Honestly, I don’t know what I would’ve done. My jaw was something that I was physically not able to fix on my own. I needed another set of hands, and someone with the right knowledge, who I could call upon and ask for help. 

That is how it is in most areas of our lives when we really think about it. We can’t live this life on our own, we need other’s help and expertise. That is why every nation, tribe and people have always gravitated toward living lives intertwined with others. This week, as I was reading Acts 27:3, I believe we get to see a perfect image of what this type of community can look like.
In Saltworks this week, we have been studying Acts 27, and there we find Paul detained as a prisoner, preparing to go before Caesar. And if you can imagine, Paul had probably been through a lot. He had experienced beatings and shipwrecks and rejection and suffering. Paul had almost been through everything. But then, in the middle of his hardships, verse 3 tells us something really special happened. It says, “The next day we put in at Sidon. And Julius treated Paul kindly and gave him leave to go to his friends and be cared for.” Acts 27:3 ESV

Paul and his companions docked their ship at Sidon, and Paul's first request was to see his friends. In the middle of being held prisoner, Paul knew he needed to place himself in community. And the beauty is that Paul’s friends came through. They actually lived out the type of community Paul had told them to foster.

And as we look at this story today, the question that keeps coming to my heart is - Do we each have this kind of community? Do we each have people in our corner who are caring for us and feeding our soul? Hopefully we do!

But if you don’t have a community like this yet, one of the best ways I believe we can build it in a healthy way, is through planting ourselves in a faith community. Find a healthy, loving and service oriented community. Plant yourself there, and allow yourself to grow deep roots. Don't jump around from one thing to the next best thing. Decide in your heart to be committed. Then, like Paul in Acts 27, be vulnerable. Lean on people, ask for help, share a meal with someone you would normally walk past. In doing this, you will not just grow your circle, you will build relationships where vulnerability, and genuine healing can both take place.  

As psychologist Kurt Thompson says, “We sense, image, feel and think all sorts of things that we never say, because we’re far frightened to be that honest, that vulnerable. But honest vulnerability is the key to both healing shame and its inevitably anticipated hellish outcome of abandonment and preventing it from taking further root in our relationships and culture.”

We need community. We need people to surround us. And in accepting this need, and being open, we discover that we find true healing and support. May we each place ourselves in positions to grow in healthy, life-giving community. And then, may we allow ourselves to not only be vulnerable, but to grow into the type of people others can find refuge in as well.

By Kyle Smith

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