Friday, April 6, 2018

With a Little Help From My Friends

One of my favorite television shows of the ‘80s was “The Wonder Years.” It tells the story of a teenager Kevin Arnold, who grows up in the late 1960s and early ’70s. To make it through the social minefield of junior high, the show’s theme song reminds us that Kevin needs “a little help from his friends”—especially his best friend Paul Pfeiffer and his heart throb, the girl next door, Winnie Cooper.

Similarly, in order for followers of Christ to successfully make it through this minefield we call “life,” we need “a little help from our friends.” The same was true even for the great Apostle Paul. His ministry never would have been as impactful as it was had it not been for the faithful Christian co-workers and friends at his side. And at the end of the book of Colossians, Paul identifies several co-workers and friends who’ve helped him in his ministry.

As you read through these passages, it’s easy to breeze through them without much thought. But if you take a closer look, I encourage you to ask yourself two questions. 1) Which of these Christian friends has God placed in my life? 2) Which of these Christian friends am I?

In verse 7, Paul first mentions Tychicus, whom he describes as a “dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.” Clearly, he was a Christian brother whom Paul could count on to do what needed to be done. And like Paul, Tychicus wasn’t building his own kingdom. He was humbly serving Christ and building his kingdom. I think of Tychicus as the friend Paul could always count on.

Next, we have Onesimus, one of the most interesting behind-the-scenes guys in the New Testament. We learn in Philemon that Onesimus was a runaway slave who had apparently stolen something from his master. By the time Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians, it was clear that it was time for Onesimus to return to his old master and face the music. When he was a slave to Philemon and a slave to sin, he was useless to Paul’s ministry. But God set Onesimus free and transformed him into a very faithful and dearly loved brother in Christ. So, let’s think of Onesimus as Paul’s friend who was the rebel wth a cause.

Paul calls his friend Aristarchus “my fellow prisoner,” although as best we can tell, he wasn’t under house arrest like Paul. But he lived as if he was. He was one of Paul’s most trustworthy traveling companions and friends, accompanying Paul on his trip to Jerusalem and his voyage to Rome. In Acts 19:29 a mob grabbed Aristarchus in Ephesus, hoping to rough him up a little bit since they couldn’t find Paul. So we can call Aristarchus Paul’s friend who’d take a bullet for him.

Mark was a young man who joined Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey to West Asia. But for some reason, he left Paul and Barnabas part way through the trip and went home. So, the next time Paul set out on a mission trip, he refused to take Mark with them. But several years later, Mark is obviously back on good terms with Paul, assisting him in his ministry. We could call Mark Paul’s friend who almost got away.

The first Gentile Christian Paul highlights in these passages is Epaphrus. And it’s clear that Epaphrus had the heart of a pastor. Paul writes in verse 12, “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.” Epaphrus was Paul’s prayer warrior friend.

The second Gentile Christian Paul highlights is Luke, who almost needs no introduction. Paul simply calls him a “dear friend” and “doctor,” but Luke is really one of the most important behind-the-scenes Christians in the New Testament. He was a trained doctor, an author and a historian. He wrote the third gospel in the New Testament, as well as the Book of Acts. Luke traveled with Paul on several of his missionary journeys, and he was probably Paul’s personal physician. So, let’s call him Paul’s brilliant, live-saving friend.

In verse 15, Paul sends greetings to one woman. Her name was Nympha, and she was the owner of the home where the church held services. We all need Nymphas in our lives—Christians with the gift of hospitality who open up their homes for ministry. You might call Nympha Paul’s gifted hostess friend.

Paul needed ministry partners, and so do we. Remember, no Christian is an island. We need each other in order to stay committed to our all-sufficient Savior. We need each other in order to avoid the pull of religious snake oil salesmen and the pull of our old sinful natures. And we need each other in order to grow in our Christlike character and serve Christ well. You and I can’t do it alone!

Dane Davis is the Lead Pastor of First Christian Church in Victorville. For more information,
visit  and join us for worship Sundays at 10am.

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