“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers.” Philemon 1:23-24
As a Pastor, I spend many hours in a car driving from place to place alone. Just this past week we had pastors meetings and I drove a total of 600 miles getting back and forth to those meetings. Most weeks the miles logged aren’t like that but still they can add up.
It’s a real treat when there’s someone with me as I make the drive.
On a sabbath, several weeks ago, I was at the New Castle church to preach the early morning service and one of the church members asked if he could ride with me to the Meridian Road church, in Butler. Since I was coming back to New Castle right after service in Butler I was glad to have him ride along.
It was fun having Karl in the car to chat with as we made the yo-yo trip back and forth over the Pennsylvania countryside; the forty minutes seemed much shorter.
Whether you’re working, or traveling, or playing, or doing nothing in particular it’s generally better if you have some one to keep you company along the way.
Paul, as he labored, almost always had at least one person working with him. And as you can tell from our focus text this didn’t change even when he was a house prisoner in Rome. In the letter to Philemon he mentions five people by name. Of these only Mark and Luke are very well known to most of us, while all we know about Epaphras, Aristarchus, and Demas are their names.
I praise God for men and women like these that will commit themselves to making the lives of others less lonely.
I’m fortunate to have not had to spend great amounts of time alone. I don’t count the minutes spent between appointments as great amounts of time even if having someone to share the time with is noticeably better.
Some of those I’m called to visit do spend many hours each day alone and I know the phone calls, and especially the visits, go a long way to relieving the loneliness.
In Matthew 25 two of the affirmations the righteous receive correlate closely with what I’m writing about. “I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.” Don’t under value the worth of the hour, or the afternoon, that you might spare to spend with them. You may feel that you’ve done nothing with your day but in fact you’ve relieved a great burden of loneliness for the one you’ve visited. Know also that in the blessing of peace and relief you given you’ve blessed the heart of Jesus.
Consider who you might be a Mark, or Luke, or Demas, or Aristarchus to this week.