Read Acts 20:36-38
36-38 Then Paul went down on his knees, all of them kneeling with him, and prayed. And then a river of tears. Much clinging to Paul, not wanting to let him go. They knew they would never see him again—he had told them quite plainly. The pain cut deep. Then, bravely, they walked him down to the ship. (THE MESSAGE)
The Apostle Paul is sometimes seen as a rather crusty academic theologian, the bad cop to Jesus’ good cop. But texts such as this remind us he was a normal human being who felt deeply, who loved much.
His farewell to the Ephesian church leaders is a reminder to us of the cost of love. If we want to avoid pain, we best steer clear of love. Whenever we form a genuine loving relationship with another human being we are opening ourselves up to at least a degree of pain. Love always makes us vulnerable.
Some are not prepared to take such a risk. Their hearts become locked away safe from hurt or disappointment. But such a heart is locked away in a fear-driven coffin. Protected from woundedness, it is also impervious to warmth or sustenance. We can’t demand that our hearts be safe from hurt and also insist that our hearts be open to love.
Paul’s example reminds us of this. But so too does Jesus on that first Good Friday. Perhaps the clearest example of all of the cost of love.
Each of us was made to love others. We both reap the rich rewards of this and at times pay the painful price of it.