27 When the fourteenth night had come, as we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected that they were nearing land. 28 So they took a sounding and found twenty fathoms. A little farther on they took a sounding again and found fifteen fathoms. 29 And fearing that we might run on the rocks, they let down four anchors from the stern and prayed for day to come.
30 And as the sailors were seeking to escape from the ship, and had lowered the ship’s boat into the sea under pretense of laying out anchors from the bow, 31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay in the ship, you cannot be saved.” 32 Then the soldiers cut away the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it go.
Paul has declared that God is going to rescue them and that they have a chance at survival, but it requires doing what God says. They’ve been bobbing around out of control for 2 weeks now! They don’t have a sail or any equipment to propel them. They still have oars to steer and give a little locomotion.
Paul also told them they have to run aground, so that means they need to do a little sailing and boating, which would take the sailors’ skills. When the sailors try to mutiny and abandon about 200 passengers, Paul and the Centurion stop them. They need those sailors to guide the ship onto the ground.
When conflicts come upon a marriage, a family, a community, or a church, people react in different ways. When the Covid–19 pandemic started, one slogan that kept popping up was “We’re all in this together.” Some people embraced that and it just made other people mad. Now life is getting back to normal, I’ve seen numerous businesses saying we’re “better together.”
While on an individual basis it can feel better to bail and take care of yourself, there is something about the events on this ship in Acts 27. It’s more than just practical sea survival that the sailors can’t escape and leave the passengers to die. God said He gave all of them to Paul, and he wants to care for all of them together.
There is something about commitment and devotion in Christianity that is assumed in so much of the scriptures. Part of “loving one another” is sticking with one another. Even after the Barnabas/Paul split over John Mark, Paul would later say that Mark was very useful and call for his help. After Paul held the coats while people murdered his friend Stephen, Phillip welcomed the repentant Paul into his house for a few days.
Splits, divisions, and factions are listed as works of the flesh in Galatians just before the listing of the fruits of the Spirit. Whether it’s on a sinking wheat freighter or a dire relational disaster, the Holy Spirit can do a lot of work to show us that we really are better together.
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