Those of us who are married often have a tricky enough time caring for and encouraging our spouses without thinking about how we can engage with the mission of God together. In part 1 we observed that Paul sees the single person as having an advantage over married couples when it comes to focusing on the cause of Christ. Despite- or because of- this fact, in his letters Paul has plenty to say to couples. At the end of one of these teachings in the book of Ephesians he writes,
…each one of you must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (5:33)
Paul’s language about marriage is often very practical yet poetic. He acknowledges the complexities and difficulties of mutual submission while using marriage as a metaphor for the profound love Christ has for his church. But when it comes to how a married couple can be intentional about engaging in God’s mission together, perhaps our best example comes from some of Paul’s friends.
Paul met Priscilla and Aquila in Corinth. Like Paul, this married couple were tent makers. They were in Corinth as refugees from Rome and soon became close friends with the traveling apostle. They quickly became leaders in the church in Corinth, Ephesus, and finally back in their home city of Rome.
One of the striking things about this couple is that, in an age when wives took a back seat to their husbands, they are always mentioned together as co-workers and leaders in the church. They shared not only a common occupation but also a common mission. And, according to Paul, their participation in God’s mission was quite effective.
Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets in their home. (Romans 16:3)
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Priscilla and Aquila are an example to those of us who are married. Certainly there is plenty about this couple that we don’t know. But from what we know there are a few things to observe.
They expected opportunities to serve together. While it must have been devastating to be forced from their home in Rome, it didn’t keep them from looking for God’s activity. I imagine in that situation it would be easy to focus only on your needs and the needs of your spouse. But Priscilla and Aquila seemed to expect that God would turn their tragedy into an adventure.
They allowed each other’s personalities and spiritual gifts to be expressed. Again, it is no small thing that Priscilla is spoken of as a co-leader with Aquila. In that culture it would have been easy for Aquila to overshadow his wife, but he obviously saw and valued who she was.
They rolled with the punches. I wonder if, after their many years of exile in Corinth and Ephesus, when they returned to their home in Rome they asked each other, “Did all of that actually happen?!” Sometimes it seems that we expect life’s adventures to stop after marriage. As if owning a home or having children or being someone’s spouse means you’ve moved off the front lines of God’s mission. Not for Priscilla and Aquila.
This post is already a bit long (probably ’cause I have more experience with being married than being single), so let’s call it good. Like last time, comments are welcomed. Thanks for reading.