Summary: Epaphroditus is a Christian model for us to consider. Paul's words about him remind us of who we are to be as Christians.
Risking Your Life/ Brother, Worker, Soldier
Paul said of Epaphroditus, he is my brother, my fellow worker, my fellow soldier for Christ. He risked his life in the service of Christ. Honor men like him.
Have you ever observed one of your children doing something or saying something and saw or heard yourself? That can be encouraging... or disturbing, can't it?
Where did they get that??? Was it genetic or environmental? Some things are just genetic, like physical features, I.Q. or even temperament. But facial expressions, behaviors and attitudes seem to sometimes pass down genetically as well.
How much of who you are and what you do came from your parents or grandparents?
There are some things we received by birth that are have no control over at all. We don't get to choose who our birth parents are. We don't get to choose our gender. We don't get to choose the genetics we have or the circumstances, time or place of our birth. In fact, most of the things about you and me are simply preconceived and received. Ultimately these are what God has given to us to use for his purposes and through which we may serve and glorify him.
2 Corinthians 5:1-9 describes God's purpose for our lives. We live in this tent that is wasting away for one reason, one purpose. That purpose is to prepare ourselves for eternity with God.
God IS our ultimate Father. He looks at us and wants to see himself. He has passed on to us his very image and likeness so that we can live for him and while we are here, pass on that good news to others and finally be clothed with a heavenly dwelling as this mortal is swallowed up by life.
When you live with that as your focus and quest, when everything else in your world takes a back seat to Jesus Christ and His authority over your life, then you can walk with confidence in the here and now and face life or death with God given boldness and courage.
You will also find yourself walking in the company of people who will not understand you or appreciate you for your lifestyle and choices. You will become a target for critics and Satan's darts. But, so be it! Do not give in or give up. Do not be distracted from your quest for Christ. Join with those who are faithful unto death so that you can receive the crown of life!
This week's The Week magazine had a piece of an editorial about Tim Tebow from National Review by Daniel Foster.
Why is that so? Why is it that if you stand up for Jesus you will be put down?
Jesus said, “Beware when all men speak well of you.” Luke 6:26 Jesus also said, “If they persecute me they will persecute you also.” John 15:20 Right before that Jesus said, “The reason the world hates you is that it hated me.” And, “You are not of this world because I have chosen you out of this world.
Paul told Timothy, “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” 2 Timothy 3:12
Peter said, “If anyone suffers as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name!” 1 Peter 4:16
Christians have historically risked their lives for their faith. Many have given their lives for Jesus Christ and the faith of the gospel. It is not so common for us to see that in America today, but that may be coming sooner than we would like.
Looking back to Epaphroditus in Philippians we see something of an ascending order of commendations on him by the apostle Paul.
First, Paul calls him, “my brother.” This is the first step in our quest for Christ as a Christian. We become family before we face the opposition of the foe. This is important. Every Christian is a brother or sister in Christ. We share the same blood. We share the same Spirit. We are united in Jesus Christ and redeemed to God by the same sacrifice. Jesus has chosen us out of the world to become a family forever in glory and eternal life. That is God's plan “A” for all of us! This brotherhood we share is the starting point for our growth into the spiritual maturity God wants for us. We are born of God, by faith and obedience to the gospel in baptism into Jesus Christ. Born again!
God longs to see himself in you. He made you for this very purpose. This is where the training begins.
Some of us want to stop there. Just save us and let us live happily ever after. But babies have to grow up. We have to learn to talk in the language of our Father, we must learn to walk in his way and according to his will. This requires work.