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we have a shared King, a shared mission and a shared risk

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25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men.

 

On one level or another, everyone desires to find “like-souled” friends. I have one friend who is so much like me, I say we’re cut from the same bolt of cloth. Now, when we’re engaged in the church of the Lord Jesus, we can find a whole family of brothers and sisters “like-souled”, because as Rob Karch put it in this week’s message, we have a shared King, a shared mission and a shared risk. Serving Christ, looking out for the interests of others and growing as a church fellowship builds a common bond. It exemplifies our service to Christ.

Paul’s longing in this passage and the Philippian’s need was deep and real – an instrument was needed to serve them both. Epaphroditus offered himself the be that instrument in selfless service with no self-pity or self-seeking. Epaphroditus chose to go not to do a showy thing or become prominent but to meet the need, to serve his brother, other people and simply do the work of building up the church of Jesus. To Epaphroditus visiting Paul was not just a task of service to fulfill but a sincere visit with a close brother. Their relationship was forged from their common Lord, mission and danger, it was not an impersonal association. Paul and Epaphroditus were “like-souled” because Paul called him a fellow worker and soldier.

These days, with our mobile society, and technology, our potential opportunities to serve are staggering and perhaps even paralyzing. The number of needs and the number of ways we could serve might hinder this genuine service. But, there are opportunities for you to become a “like-souled,” Christ-centered friend right here at South Fellowship. There are life groups, mission teams, prayer groups, classes, celebrate recovery, sisterhood, and men’s groups to join and forge closer relationships with brothers and sisters in the body of Christ. What a glory it would be to forge a bond with the people we serve with because we recognize the relationship involved in our common service. Even more, what glory to God, if the world would see the love, service and encouragement Christians have for one another. Identify an area of the church or group you serve and imagine the ripple effect your relationship with them in service creates.

 

 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,
that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself
more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,
each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.
4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function,
5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;
7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching;
8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity;
the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.
12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
– Romans 12: 1-13

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By Donna Burns

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