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Question: Would your Church Cry if you Need to Leave?
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Acts 20:1
1 After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia.
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This Greek word translated “embraced” has also been translated in other English versions as “he encouraged them and said farewell.” The Greek word translated as “embraced” is defined in the Blue Letter Bible App as…

to draw to one’s self
to salute one, greet, bid welcome, wish well
or
to receive joyfully, welcome
Used of those accosting anyone; of those who visit one to see him a little while, departing almost immediately afterwards; to pay respects to a distinguished person by visiting him; of those who greet one whom they meet in the way; a salutation was made not merely by a slight gesture and a few words, but generally by embracing and kissing, a journey was retarded frequently by saluting.

So, when Paul left, did they embrace, or did they just say farewell? Well I think I agree with the New King James Translators on this one. Paul had been teaching for three years in Ephesus, and I think he did more than just say farewell. I think he embraced them as the NKJV reads.

By the end of this very same chapter, before heading to Jerusalem, Paul calls the Ephesus elders together to instruct them and to tell them goodbye once again. The heartfelt passage reads as follows….

Acts 20:36 And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all.
37 Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him,
38 sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more. And they accompanied him to the ship.

These men were not his parents, blood brothers, nor his children. But they loved him so much that they wept, fell on his neck, and kissed him.

Yes our Christian church family can be as close to us as our family. Many times they are even closer to us than family.

Would your church cry if you need to leave?

I have only been involved with 3 churches in my 46 years. The first two were great churches. We had some good friendships. But with the way larger churches are structured, and then being busy with work and our family in our 20’s and 30’s, it was hard to build the type of relationships that Paul must of experienced at Ephesus.

My current church is a house church. Its structure is more conducive to relationships: the prayer time, the sharing what God is doing, the interactive teaching, the Sunday lunches, it’s a great place for Christ centered relationships. Although Sundays are a great time, there are other things as well: the service we’ve done together, the fasting we have done on each other’s behalf, the graduations, the birthday parties, the family game nights, the phone calls, text messages, Bible studies, lunches or coffee with a brother, marriage book studies, and even some unfortunate funerals. And as we go, we are encouraging each other through it all in Christ. That’s church!

If for some reason I ever have to leave, then I think we will embrace,
then I think there will be tears.

Do you have that kind of church?

Maybe you don’t go to church. I encourage you to make the commitment to start searching for a church. Pray that God will direct your path. Keep you eyes out for a church with good doctrine and small groups.

Maybe you go to church, but your missing good relationships. I know they’re hard to find. Sometimes churches are designed to greet for two minutes, sing, sermon, and then everyone just takes off. But thank God that even the big churches are now offering small groups. You have got to get involved in one of these groups. If your church doesn’t have one, then start your own. Pray, then invite some people over to your place or to go out for lunch. Like anything, you have to put effort into it, and you have to invest time into it. Yes, it may be easier in a house church to build Christ centered relationships, but even there it is not guaranteed. It takes time and effort; stay at it, don’t give up, church is there, you can find it, it’s worth it !

God bless, Bob

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