About eleven years ago, I walked in to my 8 a.m. Greek class during my one and only year in seminary. The professor was a Ph. D. student from Cameroon with a very thick accent. He introduced himself this way: “My name is Philemon Yong.” Say his name real fast a time or two and you will realize why we all, including the professor, had a good laugh to start off our class.
I lead off with that because we were studying Philemon in Sunday School recently. What I saw were two things that truly stood out to me. One I had seen before, but hadn’t thought of in a long time. The other is relatively new.
Both came near the end of the epistle and had absolutely nothing to do with the lesson.
The first is contained in one word. Mark. Paul just kind of slides it in there very nonchalantly. Mark. He includes him in a list of other guys that he describes as fellow workers. This might not sound terribly important if we didn’t know what happened a few years before.
Mark had gone on a trip with Paul and Barnabas, but ended up abandoning them. As Paul and Barnabas began making plans for another trip, Barnabas wanted to take Mark along again. Paul said no. They disagreed so much that they ended their partnership. They went their separate ways.
Yet, here is Mark with Paul years later. What happened? I don’t know all of the details, but one word had to have happened.
Somewhere along the way, Paul and Mark reconciled. We don’t know if Paul and Barnabas did, but I hope so. We do know that Mark became one of Paul’s fellow workers. In the end, what the Gospel is about was lived out in Paul’s and Mark’s life. They reconciled their differences. Forgiveness happened. Work ensued.
The other thing I noticed was the list in general. Epaphras. Mark. Aristarchus. Demas. Luke. These guys were part of what these days we call a tribe. They joined together with Paul. He invested in them. He poured himself into them. He nurtured them in the faith.
This is just a small list of people who were part of Paul’s tribe. Read his letters and you will find others. What we see is that Paul, the super apostle, was not in it by himself. He wasn’t off flying solo. He had a team. He had a group. He had helpers. Another way to put it is like this.
No matter what we are involved in, we can’t do it all by ourselves. We have to have help. That’s why it’s important to be connected to the Body of Christ. We each have our role and purpose. Without the others, we can’t function.
Are these all of the lessons that we can learn from Paul or his letter to Philemon? Hardly. But reconciliation and community will go a long way.
Reconciliation and Community. Two great lessons we learn from Paul.
Do you need to reconcile with anyone in the Body of Christ? Do you have a community of fellow believers to help you with your relationship with the Lord?
I listen to a lot of local sports talk radio on my way to work every day. There is one caller in particular that has really been making me laugh of late. It isn’t what he’s talking about that makes me laugh. It isn’t that he basically parrots what he has read on message boards during the night before. No, it’s his use of a certain word that makes me laugh. What word is it?
Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m a typical East Tennessee hillbilly. I cannot think of a time that I would ever use the word albeit in a sentence when I am talking to someone, much less when I am talking to them on the radio. I’m sure that he heard someone use on the radio or TV one time and thought that it would be a good word to add to his vocabulary. And truthfully, it’s not a bad word. It just doesn’t fit the character of who he is or what he’s all about. However, I’m going to cut him a break going forward..
Because I’m guilty of the same thing. No, not of using the word albeit, but of not being true to who I am. So are you. We all pretend to be someone we’re not from time to time. I know someone whose favorite word is mischievous. She pronounces it “mischievious”. She looks for opportunities to slip that word into conversation. She thinks it makes her sound like what she’s not. Unfortunately, it highlights exactly who she is. By the way, this same person would also ask me to go places with her husband “and I” sometimes at one point in my life. If I used text and Twitter abbreviations, I would do an SMH right now.
I’ve been guilty of it over the past few weeks. I did it with my blog. I tried to come up with special days to give myself something to write about. I wrote about dreams on Monday. Two for Tuesday. Twitterific Thursday. Follow Friday. Why? I saw other bloggers doing similar things. I was trying to write their posts on my blog. I painted myself into a corner. I wasn’t being me. I was being someone else. (By the way, if you checked out my blog yesterday, you saw that I kept Twitterific Thursday. I ended up liking that one.)
The apostle Paul was someone who was comfortable with who he was. He considered himself the least of the apostles, not worthy of being called to his place in life. He said that “by the grace of God, I am what I am.”
My favorite sailor man, Popeye, seemed to be comfortable with himself. Despite Olive Oyl flirting with Bluto and constantly having to battle him, Popeye could still say, “I yam what I yam!!!”
Me? I’m a husband, a father, and a follower of Christ. I am a runner, a dreamer and a blogger. I am many things…… albeit, I am what I am.
How about you? Are you comfortable with who you are?