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The Church: A Place to Belong Acts 28:11-16

By Michael A. Milton
Now, I am not saying that we have fallen into this sort of thing, but we live in a world filled with division. We need to be all the more alert about this. We need to be all the more intentional about becoming a center of hospitality and warmth for sojourners who are in need of the love of God. That is what the Church is to be: a safe haven of hospitality to fellow Christians on their way.

The last part of Acts 28:14 says that after Paul and Luke stayed with these hospitable Christians for several days they were refreshed. It reads, "So," and that is a big word there, "So, we went to Rome." In other words, the love and acceptance and attention of the Christians at Puteoli gave Paul and Luke what they needed to send them to where God wanted them to go. In an age like theirs, and a generation like ours, some who are with us today will be transferred tomorrow. Some will be called away. Some will move. Some are being sent here by God to be ministered to by this body, in order that they may serve God somewhere else.

How are you doing being a hospitable Christian? It is undoubtedly an area that requires a renewed commitment from each of us, because the Church is to be God's haven of hospitality in this fast moving world.

I find also that ...

The Church Should Be a Place that Meets Us Where We Are

In Acts 28:15, Paul and Luke are sent on by the hospitality of those believers and continue their journey towards Rome. As they make the journey by land to the capital of the Empire, they would journey to Neapolis and then turn Northwest on the Via Appia, "The oldest, straightest and most perfectly made of all the Roman roads."1 There, the scriptures say that Roman Christians came to meet them. Some came forty-three miles to the Forum of Appius, a sort of ancient "rest stop." Others came 33 miles to the Three Taverns rest stop. But, the thing to note is that Luke mentions it. The kindness of those Christians to welcome Paul and Luke, to meet them where they were, is something Luke, and the Holy Spirit, want us to know.

The Church is, when it is being the Church of the Scriptures, the representatives of Jesus, who leave their comfort zones and take long journeys to meet people where they are, at their place in life, at their point of need. The Church meets others where they are on their journey, but does so in order to bring them along, to bring them into fellowship. The Church does that in cross-cultural missions, but should do, as well, with its own.

We leave our comfort zone and meet fellow believers during difficult times in their lives. I have watched as some of you reached out to others who were hurting. You have traveled the distance and brought hope to others who were in need at a time of loss.

There are times, after a long journey in life, when some of us need someone to walk with us the rest of the way. I thank God that at some tired times in my life, though I was still on the road to discipleship, there were brothers and sisters in Christ who left their places and met me at the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns of my life. I was gladdened when I saw them.

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