Please read Colossians 4:7-17
In Greek mythology, Narcissus was a hunter from Thespiae in Boeotia who was known for his beauty. According to Tzetzes, he rejected all romantic advances, eventually falling in love with his own reflection in a pool of water, staring at it for the remainder of his life.
I believe there is a challenge that the church of today and it’s leaders are facing, but sadly I am not sure that it fully recognises it. It is the promotion of self. The world is obsessed with fame, superstars and influencers. Thousands and thousands of pictures of ‘me’ on all media platforms. Here I am doing this or that, now I am here, look who I am with today. There is a fight to promote self over and above the other self promoters.
I believe this has influenced the church. Social media is a great tool for information and communication, but when it gets into church promotion or church leader promotion I believe we are crossing the line.
Pastors become celebrities, who are praised and are to be emulated as if they are in a much better place than, the Christian lady for example, who is at home caring for her three children, or the Christian elderly man who faithfully prays each day. Or the church pastor who has laboured for twenty years in a rural unpopular situation with just thirty people.
I think Paul may have had much to write to today’s modern church and pastors. One need only read 2 Corinthians (especially chapter 11) to observe his disdain for those who fancied themselves ‘super-apostles.’
It is also evident from his commendations at the close of most of his letters the kind of folk that most impressed Paul and nearly all were just faithful unknowns and a few whose lives we know nothing about.
The people who impressed Paul were the likes of Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Justus, Epaphras, Luke (O.K. We know him!), and Archippus.
Note, the things that Paul said concerning them, they would hardly get a notice in today’s modern church, yet these were the pioneers of faith living with the real threat of persecution and seeing incredible growth. Each of them unknown and yet worthy of any platform or pulpit in today’s modern church.
Take Tychicus, for example, Paul’s special envoy to the churches of provincial Asia. Before I mentioned him here, had you ever heard his name? God had! He’s described here as “a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord” (Colossians 4:7). A man with the gift of encouragement (Colossians 4:8) who was trusted implicitly by the apostle Paul given the fact that he most likely delivered both the epistles to the Colossians and Ephesians to their respective congregations.
Then there’s Onesimus, another “faithful and beloved brother” (Colossians 4:9) that wouldn’t be noticed by most people were it not for the fact that this is probably the same Onesimus mentioned in Paul’s letter to Philemon. Yes, the slave Onesimus. Here’s a man with no possessions, no rights, no inheritance under Roman law, of no regard to the vast majority of people in his day, a man nevertheless whom Paul loves and describes as his spiritual son (Philemon 10), a man who diligently served Paul during his imprisonment and for whom Paul now willingly stands by (Philemon 11-19).
Aristarchus, a Thessalonian who travelled with Paul on several occasions (see Acts 19:29 and 20:40) was imprisoned with the apostle, probably for the same offence: fearlessly proclaiming the mystery of Christ (Colossians 4:3). What one thing would you like to be known for in history loving Jesus so much that you willingly spent time behind bars? That’s our Aristarchus.
Justus is among only three Jews who are said to have assisted Paul as “fellow workers for the kingdom of God” (Colossians 4:11). Paul is quick to point out that he, together with Aristarchus and Mark, were “a comfort” to him. Although Paul was courageous and willing to endure whatever suffering came his way, he was still susceptible to discouragement, depression and disillusionment like the rest of us.
These men comforted him! They spoke truth to his soul. They reminded him daily of God’s faithfulness and goodness and the heavenly reward that lay ahead. Such people Paul praises!
There is Luke and Archippus. Luke the author of the third gospel and the book of Acts is here referred to as “the beloved physician” (Colossians 1:14). Paul doesn’t just refer to him as a physician but a beloved physician giving us an insight into the depth of relationship.
As for Archippus, he is evidently in Colossae and is the focus of this exhortation: “See that you fulfil the ministry that you have received in the Lord” (Colossians 4:17). He’s mentioned again in Philemon 2
and described as “our fellow soldier.” We are not sure who he was and what he did, some say he was the son of Philemon. He is personally encouraged by Paul to complete his work, meaning that Paul sees his work as valuable.
Well, there you have it. Not exactly a spiritual Hall of Fame: no one like Moses or David or Daniel, but not for that reason any less precious to the Lord Jesus. Paul sad to the church in Philippi “honour such men”
Don’t be caught up in the adulation of superficial promotion of self, if you going to promote anyone promote Jesus and take a leaf out of the ‘John the Baptist book’ “I must decrease and he must increase.”
Do not seek, support, or learn from self promoters but from “beloved brothers and sisters” who are “faithful ministers” and “fellow servants” of the Lord Jesus and “fellow workers for the kingdom” who expend themselves serving the kingdom without recognition and pray quietly and faithfully for the saints. These are the true super-stars!