Summary: God designed us to live in community with others and to work in partnership with one another for the sake of the kingdom. No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
Why We Need Each Other
Two friends were out hunting. As they were walking through the woods, one of them yelled and the other looked up to see a huge grizzly bear charging at them. The first friend started to frantically put on his tennis shoes. When his buddy saw this, he anxiously asked, “What are you doing? Don’t you know you can’t outrun a grizzly bear?” To which the first guy responded, “I don’t have to outrun him. I just have to run faster than you do!”
This morning, as we conclude our study of the Book of Colossians, we’re reminded that our faith should affect our friendships. Instead of just looking out for ourselves, we need to recognize that we really do need each other because we’re all members of one body. That’s not easy to do. As someone has said:
To dwell with saints above
That will be glory;
But to live with saints below,
That’s another story.
Please turn in your Bibles to Colossians 4:7-18 and follow along as I read: “Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jews among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea. Tell Archippus: ‘See to it that you complete the work you have received in the Lord.’ I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”
1. Paul did not operate alone. Paul mentions over 100 people by name in his New Testament letters! In Romans 16 alone, there are 26 people listed. Here, in Colossians 4, he mentions 10 individuals. Paul was definitely not a lone ranger, but functioned as a member of a team. By the way, this should give us incentive to work harder at remembering people’s names.
2. Christians have always relied on networks. Paul was a great networker! Without supportive friends and partners throughout the world, the gospel would not have spread as fast as it did. My friend Ray Pritchard is great at this. When he meets someone, he remembers their name and looks for ways to leverage his relationships for the sake of the kingdom. I’ve tried to learn from him as I communicate on a regular basis with pastors in Chicago, Bloomington, Gridley, Flanagan, and Pontiac. I’ve also developed ministry partnerships with pastors in other states as they’ve accessed our church web site, and I try to keep in touch with missionaries around the world.
3. Friendship is part of our discipleship. Our sanctification should extend to all of our relationships. As we live out the supremacy of Christ in our lives, it will affect our interaction with others. In fact, our friends can help us grow. Proverbs 27:17: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” The church was created to be a community of interdependent people.
4. Friendships develop through shared experiences. Most of Paul’s relationships were nurtured in the crucible of ministry partnerships. Some of the best friends you will ever have are those who you meet as you minister together.
5. People are more important than programs. It’s important for us to remember that ministry always flows along relational rivers. I’ve made mistakes when I’ve put programs above people. If I’ve ever done that to you, I’m sorry.
6. It’s beneficial to have friends who are different from us. Included among Paul’s friends are a doctor and a runaway slave. He had friends who were Jewish in background and others who didn’t even know who Abraham was. He hung out with guys and had friendships with women. He was closer to some than others, some were givers and a few were goers, several were old and a handful were new, some were up to the task while others bolted from their beliefs.