Summary: For Men’s Day at Emmaus Baptist Church, Quinton, VA. Aquila is an example of taking risks to secure his self-knowledge, his relationships, and his contribution to the church.
Anything worth doing involves risk, doesn’t it? Nothing great has ever been accomplished by people afraid to take risks.
I have seen a poster that showed a small fish, closing in on a worm and a fishhook, but unaware that he was about to be gobbled up by a large fish, which was itself about to be a snack for a larger fish, which was in turn in the jaws of a very large fish. The caption on the poster read, “There is no such thing as a free lunch!” Anything worth doing is risky. It costs you time, muscle, money, and most of all you risk something. But not to risk is to achieve nothing.
The insurance salesman comes around, and he talks with you about eliminating risks. He sells you fire insurance so that you are will not lose everything because of a stray spark. But let me tell you, when that fire comes, there will be more holes in that policy than in a slice of Swiss cheese, and no amount of insurance will restore those priceless personal things the fire took away. Insurance cannot eliminate risks. Anything worth doing involves risk.
You went to a guidance counselor, maybe, when you were in high school, and took tests designed to help you decide what kind of work to do. The idea was to keep you from risking a waste of time on something you would not really be able to do. I guess there is some value in that; but when my brother took one of those tests in high school, it said he was way up there on mechanical skills and way down there on musical ability. Now doesn’t it strike you as odd that today he is a professor of church music in one of our seminaries, but the only thing he knows to do with his car is phone the mechanic? The test is fine, as far as it goes; but my brother knew that anything worth doing would involve risk.
We live in a very risky world. Just venturing out in this wintry weather is risky. Buying something is risky; we went to our granddaughter’s fourth birthday party Friday night, and two or three of the toys she was given don’t work. My daughter risked some money, and lost this time.
Risk! More than that, brothers and sisters, relationships are risky. Love is risky. Telling the truth is risky. Accepting responsibility is risky. But what is my thesis? That anything worth doing is risky; but now let me say, as well, that anything worth doing may be risky, yet our God has a way of blessing those who take risks. The Lord honors those who live by faith and not by sight. Our God works in those who learn what it is to risk what they have and who they are, for Kingdom purposes.
Since 9/11 the nation has been caught up in the issue of homeland security. That’s a phrase I don’t think I even heard until after 9/11 – homeland security. Since then it dominates the conversation where I live, in Washington. We have a Department of Homeland Security, with thousands of employees and many agencies. State and local governments have directors of homeland security. It’s everywhere; it’s even in my family, as our son-in-law works with an agency that partners with the government in watching what trucks carry across the borders. He’s just published a book on counter-terrorism. It’s become very clear to me, as I have watched all this take place, that we do live in risky times, but aren’t we grateful that there are people who are prepared to risk their lives, their fortunes, and their honor to keep the homeland secure?
So that leads me to ask what you and I are prepared to risk for the security of the homelands? What are you and I prepared to risk to secure the communities in which we live and the homes of which we are a part? And, gentlemen, brothers, on Men’s Day at Emmaus, what will you and I risk in order to make certain that the church is strong and secure? What risks will we take for homeland security?
In the New Testament there is a person – or really a couple, but today I’d like to focus on one half of that couple – there is a person who can teach us about taking risks for homeland security. And this person’s life will also show us that our God honors risk-takers with joy and with fulfillment.
The person I want to focus on is Aquila. Aquila was a Jewish Christian, originally from the province of Pontus, a tentmaker by trade; the husband of Prisca, sometimes called Priscilla; and, as the account in Acts tells us, at one time a resident of Rome, until the Emperor expelled the Jews from the city. Aquila moved to Corinth, later traveled with Paul and, with his wife, created a church right in his own home. Not only is Aquila’s story told in the Book of Acts, but Paul mentions Aquila and Priscilla in First Corinthians, in Second Timothy, and, most memorably, in the last chapter of Romans. In that Romans passage Paul says,