It is fascinating to see the inter-relationships of the Apostle Paul and a great circle of his close friends and co-workers.
Paul was not a man to do things alone. He knew his need of others and he knew his value to them. He knew hope is discovered in Christ but lived out and demonstrated in community.
He uses such affectionate words to describe each relationship:
Tychicus, “a beloved brother, faithful minister and fellow servant” – someone he felt a tie that went as deep as family, appreciating the work he did and knew him as someone who stood alongside.
Onesimus, “a faithful and beloved brother” – the tone you would use toward someone who has consistently acted in a way that was unusually self sacrificial.
Aristarchus, “my fellow prisoner”- I can only imagine what bond of friendship would be formed in the time spent together encouraging one another through such a difficult season.
Epaphras, “who is one of you, a bond servant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” – a bondservant is one who has given their life over completely, living to serve, follow and fully honour His master, Jesus; who no longer wrestles to do the things His master asks Him to do (change his life’s direction, be devoted to prayer, to God’s people, surrender his money, to be teachable, responsible).
He labored fervently for his people. So that they may stand perfect and complete.
We need friends, we need a circle, a Group … because it is there we find freedom, it is there we find people fervent to help us find transformation.
The call to be a bondservants is a call to be transformed.
Who is your devoted circle? Whose got your back? Who gives you hope (not just encouraging kind words, but a real reason to keep running). Who is fervently praying for you?
And to whom are you doing likewise?
Because not only are you transformed by your circle of friendships (of this kind) but we are empowered.
In Colossians 4:17 Paul concludes and says to Archippus, “Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it”
You are called. Not from isolation but from community. It’s in community you find your purpose and your courage to pursue it.
So thank God for Church! Dig in to healthy friendships there. Thank God for Groups in the community of your Church. Thank God for people who fervently pray, believe, love, enjoy, transform and empower, with who true hope is shared. Find your tribe!