Monday, December 11, 2006

Kingdom Friends: That’s How The Light Gets In

Week 4: A Celebration of Kingdom Friends

Have you ever had to wait in a crowded doctor’s office, or in a long line, waiting for name to be called? All the while these other names are mentioned before yours. You find yourself wondering about their origin, nationality, and background, perhaps being surprised as to what the person looks like after their name is announced and they come forward. “Look at that, Jamie parson’s is a guy. I thought it was going to be a woman.”

“Yadlowski? What kind of name is that?” “MacTavish? Wonder if they’re related to Craig?”

Lets read an interesting list in the bible:

Romans 16
Be sure to welcome our friend Phoebe in the way of the Master, with all the generous hospitality we Christians are famous for. I heartily endorse both her and her work. She's a key representative of the church at Cenchrea. Help her out in whatever she asks. She deserves anything you can do for her. She's helped many a person, including me.
Say hello to Priscilla and Aquila, who have worked hand in hand with me in serving Jesus. They once put their lives on the line for me. And I'm not the only one grateful to them. All the non-Jewish gatherings of believers also owe them plenty, to say nothing of the church that meets in their house.

Hello to my dear friend Epenetus. He was the very first follower of Jesus in the province of Asia.

Hello to Mary. What a worker she has turned out to be!

Hello to my cousins Andronicus and Junias. We once shared a jail cell. They were believers in Christ before I was. Both of them are outstanding leaders.

Hello to Ampliatus, my good friend in the family of God.

Hello to Urbanus, our companion in Christ's work, and my good friend Stachys.

Hello to Apelles, a tried-and-true veteran in following Christ.

Hello to the family of Aristobulus.

Hello to my cousin Herodion.

Hello to those who belong to the Lord from the family of Narcissus.

Hello to Tryphena and Tryphosa—such diligent women in serving the Master.

Hello to Persis, a dear friend and hard worker in Christ.

Hello to Rufus—a good choice by the Master!—and his mother. She has also been a dear mother to me.

Hello to Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and also to all of their families.

Hello to Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas— and all the followers of Jesus who live with them.

Holy embraces all around! All the churches of Christ send their warmest greetings!

One final word of counsel, friends. Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They're only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren't above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

And so while there has never been any question about your honesty in these matters—I couldn't be more proud of you!—I want you also to be smart, making sure every "good" thing is the real thing. Don't be gullible in regard to smooth-talking evil. Stay alert like this, and before you know it the God of peace will come down on Satan with both feet, stomping him into the dirt. Enjoy the best of Jesus!

And here are some more greetings from our end. Timothy, my partner in this work, Lucius, and my cousins Jason and Sosipater all said to tell you hello.

I, Tertius, who wrote this letter at Paul's dictation, send you my personal greetings.

Gaius, who is host here to both me and the whole church, wants to be remembered to you.

Erastus, the city treasurer, and our good friend Quartus send their greetings.

All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter.

All our praise is focused through Jesus on this incomparably wise God! Yes!

I wonder how Paul new all those people? They say he had never been to the church in Rome. This list is interesting because it gives us a profile of a committed group of Christ followers, a group of Kingdom Friends.

In the list there is a husband and wife, Aquila and Priscilla. There is a man and his mother, Rufus. There is brother and a sister, Nereus and sister. There are brothers, Andronicus and Junias; sisters, Tryphaena and Tryphosa. How about an old man, Epanetus. There is a single woman, Mary. A single guy, too, Herodian. The common bond is Jesus Christ. A motley crew, I might add.

This isn’t just a list. “Aquila and Priscilla risked their necks for me”, Paul would say. “Some were in jail with me”. “Mary was unbelievable. She was there when everyone else quit, saying, ‘go home, I’ll finish up. She worked hard.’”

“The first Christ follower from my teaching, Epanetus. Rufus and his mom, who is my mom, too.”

Paul isn’t just saying hello to these people either. In many ways he’s saying ‘goodbye’, too. In Romans 15 Paul writes, “Pray for me. Pray strenuously with and for me—to God the Father, through the power of our Master Jesus, through the love of the Spirit—that I will be delivered from the lions' den of unbelievers in Judea.”

“I hope to see you all. But I may not, I may be killed first”. As it was, Paul did make it to Rome, to spend some time in a jail cell before he was put to death. This is not just a list, but also a celebration of Kingdom Friends.

"We have all known the long loneliness and have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community." Dorothy Day

Communion is always a celebration of Kingdom friends. In New Testament times it was a love feast. It’s not about the food or the preparation but about the people and the journeys and the conversation and the caring.

Finding Jesus maybe isn’t as difficult as we all think. It’s just that sometimes He hides behind trees and clouds. Other times He is a little bolder and looks at us through human eyes and smiles at us with human teeth. Sometimes He is so kind as to reach out and touch us. When we weep from the heaviness of our heart, we hope and pray someone is able to reach out and touch us. Jesus is often hidden somewhere between those reaching fingertips and our shoulder.

On the notes page please take a minute to write down a name, several names if you will, of those whom you are thankful for on your own spiritual journey.

My Kingdom Friends:

Don’t do it just for today, though. Make this list and keep it. Add people to it as they are sent by the Father to cross your path. Envision adding to it over the years, sort of your own ‘Book of Life’.

Imagine meeting Peter at the mythical gate to heaven and he asks to see what you’ve got.

My Book of Life:

“Not much” you say. “Just a little list. A bunch of names, my Kingdom Friends- the people who God used to help me accept and live a son or daughter in Christ. This group of people, who without their influence, I never would have made it.”

Peter looks at the list and smiles, saying, some of these folks are already here. They’ve got a banner just ahead that says, “Welcome home friend. ’Welcome home.’

Come and receive the broken body and blood of Jesus Christ, celebrating with Kingdom Friends.


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