In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!” “Yes, Lord,” he answered. The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.” “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.” But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” – Acts 9:10-16
When Jesus called Saul (the persecutor) into His service, He did so on the road to Damascus without any outside assistance. Yet, from the moment of his blindness until his death many years later, Paul (the apostle) was rarely without a ministry companion and it all began with Ananias, the man instructed to assist and baptize this radical new convert. While the work of Saul’s conversion was performed by Christ alone, the process of preparation for ministry involved others. God could have placed Saul into His service without anyone’s help, but He decreed that His Body, His church should be involved.
We see this same biblical principle alive today. It is this “interconnectedness” and “community” that makes it possible for new members of Christ’s kingdom to be raised up within the fellowship and ultimately find their place of service. This is why it is vitally important that we involve ourselves in the process both as learners and leaders. It is certainly a lesson that Saul/Paul would never forget. Just ask Silas, Timothy, Aguila, Priscilla, and the rest.
Though there may be times in our Christian lives when we feel lonely, we are never alone and should never desire solitude more than is necessary for spiritual health. Even if you struggle with a “crowd,” you can appreciate and value “community.” Let us not forsake the “assembly,” for the sake of those (like Paul) who need to be encouraged to move forward in their walk with Christ.
The Bible knows nothing of solitary religion. – John Wesley