Asking for help isn’t really my strong suit. Frankly, I hate doing it. And I hate doing it not because of pride or ego, but because of fear. I’m afraid of appearing weak. I’m afraid of being vulnerable. And yet, most of the times in my life where I’ve finally overcome my fear and asked for help, I was glad I did, even when the other person said ‘No!” There’s something truly liberating about knowing you aren’t by yourself when you’re in trouble! I need my friends.
Because it’s really true. I really do “get by with a little help from my friends!” This is an old idea that is rooted in creation itself. We, humans, were meant for communion. You’ve heard me say this a thousand times! And it’s because we are created in God’s image and He knows Himself as Persons in Communion.
Just look at our Lesson today from Acts 18:22-28:
IN THOSE DAYS, when Paul had landed at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church, and then went down to Antioch. After spending some time there he departed and went from place to place through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples. Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesos. He was an eloquent man, well versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue; but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and expounded to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wished to cross to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him, and wrote to the disciples to receive him. When he arrived, he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully confuted the Jews in public, showing by the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.
It’s a great story. St. Apollos was a very gifted teacher and speaker and he was a zealous preacher for the wisdom of God revealed by St. John the Baptist and his message of repentance. St. Apollos had been instructed in the “ways of the Lord” up to John’s message and ministry, but he didn’t have the whole story, and that was a problem! (by the way, it always is!)
So here comes Priscilla and Aquila, as wife and husband team who were faithful Christians and had “the rest of the story!” They fill Apollos in on the Incarnation and the message of Jesus, His life, death, and resurrection, and Apollos having been instructed in “the way of God more accurately” became a powerful teacher and leader of the Faith! He eventually became bishop in the city of Corinth, but that’s another story.
The truth is none of us will ever be healthy Christians by ourselves. “Lone Ranger” Christianity is notoriously dangerous! We need the wisdom and even the conflict of rubbing shoulders with one another, learning from one another, and even experiencing conflict together if we are ever going to be healthy people who know ourselves well and who are humble enough to be students as well as teachers. This wisdom of community, of relationships, means we do ourselves spiritual, emotional, and even physical harm, when we think we can “go it alone.” We were meant to experience the Life of God, the Faith, the whole of creation as connected and reachable persons.
Today, where are you cut off from others? Where are you trying to “do it by myself?” How’s that working out for you? It simply is no mistake that the center of our worship as Orthodox is the Eucharist, Communion. We were meant to press out this very daily faith in the midst of the hard work of communion. We are supposed to not only do this hard work but not give up on this hard work when it gets really hard! It’s in staying faithful to communion, to community, that makes me able to love others as God loves them. Community sets me free to finally be my true self. In fact, I will never truly know myself by myself! So, I really do “get by with a little help from my friends!” Ok, maybe a lot of help, especially since the goal is to be Orthodox on Purpose!
P.S. Dear Lord, You are not alone! You have revealed the mystery of Your Life in Trinity as the mystery we need to contemplate so that we escape the temptation of “I’ll do this by myself.” We are created in Your Image and You are Persons in Communion, so that’s what we need to be real persons ourselves! Help me notice when my life slips into “do-it-yourself” mode and save me by helping me build relationships instead of trying to bear this work of salvation by myself! Amen