Thursday, April 5, 2018
Those Who are Sent
Phil. 2:25 Still, I think it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus—my brother and co-worker and fellow soldier, your messenger and minister to my need; 26 for he has been longing for all of you, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 He was indeed so ill that he nearly died. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, so that I would not have one sorrow after another. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, in order that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 Welcome him then in the Lord with all joy, and honor such people, 30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to make up for those services that you could not give me.
Epaphroditus had been sent by the church in Philippi to go and minister to Paul. To be sent was to be a “messenger,” or in Greek, an “apostol.” This was a special ministry that Epaphroditus had fulfilled, being sent by the church in Philippi to minister to the needs of Paul, while he was in prison in Rome.
He worked faithfully with Paul in a partnership for the gospel. The words of collegiality are spoken; “my brother,” “co-worker,” and “fellow soldier.” The one who had been sent was faithful in fulfilling his responsibilities and showed great love and affection for Paul, suffering and coming close to death on behalf of the work of Christ. We have no details as to what he encountered, but we know that he embraced being sent and laboring together with the great Apostle.
While Epaphroditus had been sent to Paul, it was now time to for him to return home. Paul didn’t want the church to misunderstand sending him back. Just has he had been an apostle to Paul, now Epaphroditus would be an apostle to the Philippian church. After nearly dying, Paul is sending him back home. Timothy is unable to come at this time, and the fact that Paul is sending Epaphroditus shows how much this one who was sent to him has learned and will now be able to bring back to the Philippians. Paul wants him to be warmly welcomed, not just as the one whom they had sent, but now, as the one whom Paul is sending to them. It will make Paul’s joy complete if they will welcome Epaphroditus back home, not as the one who left, but as one who has been sent out to share the good news and be faithful in the midst of tribulation. Epaphroditus was sent out to the Apostle, but would return home on behalf of the Apostle. Epaphroditus himself has become the living message, carrier of the good news, the sent one.
Needs abound, whether in our local community, our state, or even across the ocean. There will always be a need for some to respond to the call to be sent. It seems that our society is increasingly averse to moving or traveling too far. In a day and age when transportation provides great ease, I am amazed at how many college students couldn’t fathom being more than an hour from home. Many individuals choose to find new jobs rather than being moved across the country. Maybe it’s the digital age, but it seems that we want to put down roots and stay in the place where we have been planted. At the same time, we need to people who will be open to the call. There are those who need to be sent outside their comfort zone and minister in the name of Jesus Christ.
Who will go? Who is going to answer the call? God is still in the business of calling people to follow him to the very ends of the earth. We are in need of a few more individuals like Epaphroditus who was willing to give up the comforts of home to go and minister to Paul. The result was the he was personally transformed and then, able to be used by God to be sent again — back to his home.
There are seasons in life and there may be a time when we are sent elsewhere, and then we may be sent back home. That’s not a guarantee, nor is it a promise. Instead, it’s an openness to be sent, wherever God may need you.
Who will go into the world and make a radical difference? Epaphroditus was willing to do whatever was necessary to serve Paul and the church. We need a few more these days who will answer that call and be willing to leave all behind for the sake of the gospel. Who will go?
Lord, may I always be willing to go where you send me. I, too, want to be one of those who is sent, and obedient. Amen.