Wednesday, June 3

Friends on mission

Scripture: Proverbs 28-29, Psalm 60, Romans 16

Observation

In Romans 16, Paul commends Phoebe (most likely the bearer of this letter) to the Roman church.  And then he greets his friends.  He calls out 26 people by name—in a church that he hadn’t visited yet.  And he calls them “my co-workers” and “my dear friends”.  He names specific traits that he admired or work they had done or roles they filled.  You can feel the affection for these people in his words.  

Paul not only had many friends in the distant Roman church, but he also had many nearby, with him as he wrote from Corinth.  Near the end of the chapter, Paul names 8 more friends who are all with him in sending their greetings to the Roman church.  

All of these people, near and far, were co-workers and friends; they were Paul’s “friends on mission.”

We tend to think of Paul as a lone wolf, a superstar apostle traveling the Empire alone.  But Paul was rarely alone; he almost always traveled with friends, and when he arrived, he made new friends in that location.  All these friendships revolved around the shared mission of Jesus.  

Application

Two years ago, I joined three other Spokane pastors in starting the Pacific Northwest Church Planting Movement.  We have grown to four networks of churches that are partnering to make more disciples, train more leaders and plant more churches.  We have some big hairy audacious goals, like training and sending 400 missional leaders to start new churches in the next 10 years.  

One of our core values is relationships: we are friends on mission.  Those words are weighty.  

We are friends.  We love each other and enjoy being together.  We trust each other, and so are willing to share our resources in partnership.  We actually like each other!

We are on mission.  We are bound together first and foremost by the mission of Jesus to which we have devoted our lives.  Our friendships grow naturally out of this shared devotion.  

We are friends on mission.  

I’ve been doing the mission of Jesus for 55 years now, and wherever I’ve been, I’ve developed deep friendships with people who were on mission with me.  There is nothing like the bond of shared mission to deepen a friendship.  

None of us is a Lone Ranger.  Christianity is a team sport.  Who is on your team?  Who are your friends on mission?

Prayer: Lord, like Paul, I can name many people here at home and far away who are my friends on mission.  I pray that more believers will be devoted to Your mission and to their friends on mission.