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People need hope more than ever. As followers of Jesus, we have this promise in Colossians 1:27.....Listen to Radio Podcast featured on Moody Radio April 17 2024 

Tuesday-Connections

Updated: Apr 17

 

You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

 

Colossians 1:7,8

 

Paul starts off by talking about Epaphras. Now Mr. E wasn’t just another follower of Jesus. Oh no, he had an important part to play in the lives of the Colossians. He’s the one who they learned from. Learned about Jesus and learned how it changes their lives. Changes everything.

 

But out of the gate we’ve got a problem with the Apostle Paul and Mr. E. To be called a servant today is just about the ultimate insult. I can’t think of a more powerful word that puts a person down more than servant. Yes, there are many swear words and phrases that are meant to hurt, but I think servant is all the more hurtful.

 

When you’re a servant, it means that you don’t have the right to do things on your own. That you don’t have control over your life. You can’t make decisions for yourself. And when someone tells you to do something, you have to do it. There’s no room for discussion. No negotiation. Just blind obedience.

 

Funny thing though, Jesus doesn’t seem to have a problem with the word or the idea when it comes to our relationship with God and one another. It’s a voluntary submission to God and one another. Heck, Jesus even talks about himself like this.

 

Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

Matthew 20:26-28

 

I know that we’re so much smarter and more sophisticated than those poor slobs back in the first century. But that’s what Paul calls Mr. E. But he’s not just any servant. Paul says that he’s a three-dimensional servant.

 

  1. Our – He’s not out there all alone, and neither is Paul. There’s a community within the followers of Jesus. A fellowship that must be fed, encouraged, cherished. Moving from being a friend to being an “our” takes time. You have to want it.

  2. Dear – Their relationship isn’t that he’s just one of the guys, but someone who’s beloved. There’s a God kind of love between them. They want nothing but the absolute best for each other and are willing to back it up with their time, energy, and resources.

  3. Fellow – They don’t just wear the same jersey because they’re on the same team. There’s a closeness that comes from time spent together. Doing things together. Working hard and sweating together as they give up their choices for the good of the group.

 

But this wasn’t enough. Mr. E. was oh so much more important to the Colossians. Yes, he was our dear fellow servant, he also was a minister. But Paul’s not thinking of a minister as the person up front behind the pulpit on Sunday mornings.

 

A minister is someone who quickly and efficiently goes like a waiter from table to table. And they move so quickly that they kick up the dust that’s lying on the floor. That’s the kind of guy that Mr. E. was to the Colossians.  But not just any kind of minister.

 

  • Faithful – What’s the first thing that all faithful people do? It isn’t to put up a website. Or get thousands of social media followers. Or even to give lots and lots of money. The absolute first thing a faithful person does is to show up. Day after day. Week after week. They show up when they say they will and do what they promise. They are loyal and boy are they rare these days.

  • Christ – Mr. E. focused his faithful service and ministering on Jesus. He didn’t spend his time, energy, and money on some hobby or cause. No matter how good the other things might be, he focused everything on Christ. God’s sacrifice and his savior were the target of his life. And he did everything he could to hit bullseye every time. Every day. Every hour.

 

And the relationship they had was amazing. Mr. E. loved the Colossians and the Colossians loved Mr. E. They swam around in the same pool of love that God had poured out for them in Jesus. They loved one another, only wanting God’s best for each other. They supported one another. Encouraged one another. They were willing to let the other one have the attention. Let someone else be up front. Let someone else receive the credit.

 

Boy, doesn’t that sound like a group of people you’d want to be connected with. To be joined together with in Jesus. That’s the kind of connection we all want with the people we sit beside on any Sunday morning. And it can be. But it comes at a price. We need to become the servant. We need to take the first step in serving them. Giving up our rights and will to do God’s loving best for them. Serving them with their needs.

 

And then we need to become a minister to them. Energetically dropping whatever we’re doing and kicking up some dust as we move rapidly to love on them. Not doing what we think is best, but what God says is for their good. For their best. That’s the kind of connections God wants us to make. How’s your connection making and keeping going?

 

Noodling Questions

 

  • Is there a Mr. E in your life? What are they like?

  • Would anyone call you “our dear, faithful” servant? Why or why not?

  • What’s stopping us from becoming more like Mr. E. to the people around us?

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