Despite the high cost of gasoline and the tensions and discomforts
of air travel, millions will travel this summer, for vacations or business.
Probably very few of us will think of ourselves as missionaries.
Paul and Apollos were so obviously missionaries, as today's reading from
Acts reminds us. I've never been one, although I've travelled a great
deal for pleasure and business. But now I am asking myself if perhaps I have
been a missionary without realizing it.
Paul brought "strength to all the disciples," and when Apollos arrived in
Ephesus from his native Alexandria, he "spoke and taught accurately about
Jesus" and as he travelled on to Achaia, he was encouraged and welcomed.
At his destination he "gave great assistance to those who had come to believe
Today on our vacations we try to relax, to have fun, perhaps with family
and friends, and maybe gain some cultural stimulation. On our business
trips, our goals may be sales, or learning new skills, or instructing others
in the techniques of our specific secular professions or trades. We do not
intend to teach about Jesus as Paul and Apollos did.
But this passage in Scripture makes me reconsider. On my trips, did
I ever "bring strength" to those I met? Even in secular ways, could
I have by example accurately expressed the spirit of Jesus? Have I
communicated the Way of God as I journeyed, as I attended meetings?
Sadly, I acknowledge now after so many trips that it has not been by deliberate
choice to do so.
Yet something inside me suggests that these trips were opportunities to be
a missionary for Christ, and that sometimes in some small way I may have
shared the missions of Paul and Apollos. I am hardly boasting.
I think the readers of this reflection on their holidays and at the meetings
far from home also communicate Christ's message whenever they speak honestly,
when they speak for justice and charity, or accurately instruct those in
need of any kind of training for service or leadership, or patiently and
sincerely accept the counsel of those who are wiser or have more experience.
At the end of this month my wife and I will fly to Hawaii to visit a former
student. We bought our tickets as tourists, not as "professional" missionaries.
And when I travel to my next conference, I'll go as a college teacher.
And yet maybe my wife, and this professor, and maybe all of us, however mundane
the motivations for our trips, may still travel, as did Paul and Apollos,
as missionaries for the love of Christ.