Throughout history we’ve come to know all sorts of famous couples: Ferdinand & Isabella, Julius Caesar & Cleopatra, & Fred & Wilma. Our focus for today is on another couple we should get to know, Priscilla & Aquila.
I recall the Disciple 1 class my wife, Doris, and I took a few years ago. Our class was reviewing the soap opera-esque scene of David, Bathsheba & Uriah – some might entitle, “As Jerusalem Turns.”
A Reader’s Digest version of the story could go like this: Uriah is off at war. King David covets Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba. She becomes pregnant with David’s child. David re-calls his general, Uriah, back from the front lines to hang out with Bathsheba & cloud the paternity issue. Uriah unwittingly foils David’s plan & opts to say with the troops. David successfully contrives a way for Uriah to die in battle.
One of our discussion questions asked us to characterize the main players in the drama. That week, by chance, our groups were divvied up male & female. As we men-folk (picture a collection of Colonel Mustards in the drawing room with their pipes) chatted about Uriah, we universally came to the conclusion that he was a “stand up guy.” He didn’t take the easy way out. “No sir!” He could have enjoyed all of the comforts of home, but he opted to sleep on the hard ground with his troops. A “man’s man.” “Very admirable.” “By jove, he had the stuff of true leadership.” We then sat back, nodding our heads, rather assured in our assessment of Uriah. (If we smoked pipes, we would have started puffing rather contentedly.)
But then the ladies of the group began to counter our well-thought-out & man-of-the-world opinion. “Uriah was a cad!” He had a brief leave from the war. There was no guarantee that he would ever return from the front. He was given the option to be at home with his wife. “He chose to ditch her & stay at work? Reprehensible!” He should have taken advantage of this opportunity to be with his wife & see her. “His behavior was abominable!”
Huh. (Pipes are slowly being put away.)
It was then that I began to fully appreciate the understated beauty & simple brilliance of the Biblical example of Priscilla & Aquila. How fun it must have been to be included in a group led by two passionate, well-informed teachers intellectually jousting with each other to bring Jesus’ teachings into focus.
I keep thinking of the proverbial phrase, “iron sharpens iron.” When we bring to the forefront multiple perspectives, ala Priscilla & Aquila, we develop a much sharper, a much stronger conclusion. (Note: From our slightly embellished example from Disciple 1 class described above, I suspect an accurate picture of Uriah would be a blend of the two viewpoints.)
Before we leave our reading, I think we can reach the following conclusions:
Priscilla must have been an awesome teacher. Stereotypes didn’t mean anything to her. She was intelligent & focused all of her talents on helping others to come to know Christ. I think one could make a case that she must have been a whirlwind of energy & passion. She would have been a force at any time in history.
I would also submit that Aquila was a man of unique & strong character. He wasn’t threatened by Priscilla’s faith or passion. He obviously cheered on her development as a teacher. He was probably mocked & teased by other men in the community for letting his wife be seen as his equal. Yet, I don’t think he paid them any attention. He was an amazing man of his generation.
May we find encouragement in our own faith walk & our own relationships from this remarkable pair of individuals.