Ok, so I feel like this word, “tentmaker,” has been transformed into a big ministry buzzword, meaning that some people whose hearts on fire for ministry do not earn their living from it, unlike a pastor. See, confusing? My goal is this post is to simplify that, and call us all to be tentmakers, wherever we are. Last night I read about Priscilla & Aquila in Acts 18. I knew I had heard their names used before, but I must have zoned out on the actual story, so let’s just dive into it!
Paul has just arrived in Corinth, where he meets a Jewish man and his wife, who probably already were also followers of Jesus, or became thus during the time Paul was there. They opened up their home to him, for all 3 were tentmakers, which is exactly what it sounds like…people who make tents. Either way, their occupation was the same, so it just made sense for them to invite him in, not just on the basis of their work, but on their deeper work, their deeper mission, to proclaim the gospel.
So Paul stayed with them and worked with them. And every Sabbath, “he reasoned in the synagogue…and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks,” even amidst great opposition. And we can also infer that he continued to teach the couple he was staying with by looking at what happened once he left Corinth.
Another man much like Paul came into Corinth, proclaiming the gospel, “being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John.” That last phrase means that he didn’t know about the baptism Jesus commanded in Matthew 28, nor did he know about the Holy Spirit, which would have hindered his ministry.
So, this tentmaker couple saw an opportunity for discipleship. They took him aside and “explained to him the way of God more accurately.” The result? He went on and discipled many others. His boldness increased, no doubt by his own experience with the Holy Spirit. He became a tentmaker in a sense. Though he did not have an outside occupation, he had the same values, to live on purpose, always looking for opportunities to share the gospel.
It is here that I insert the fact that we are all to be tentmakers. I know some of those reading this are involved in full-time ministry overseas. And some have ministry jobs (like 8-5). But most of us have “normal” jobs…or no job besides “student.” We are called to be tentmakers. What did these tentmakers–Priscilla and Aquila–do?
They lived on purpose. Their home was always open. They looked for opportunities of discipleship and took them, obeying the Spirit’s leading always. Yes, they had jobs. They made tents, literally. I know we are busy too, just like them. They did not take the Sabbath for granted. They took it off, setting it aside for God and God alone. Do we do that? Sure, we go to church, but then are our afternoons filled with homework & friends, not HIM? So, we must examine ourselves and see what God would have us to, as tentmakers in our own right. Let us keep our eyes fixed on Him, the founder and perfecter of our faith, throwing aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run our race with endurance.