2021 – The Other
This morning is the first Sunday of a new year. We are finished with 2020. We are now ready for 2021… I hope. I like the movement of the years. It is a good time for new things to begin. We can put the old behind us. We can set new goals before us. That is what I want to do in this sermon. I want to begin something new… well… sort of. The seeds of what I want to do with our sermons in 2021 were planted last year. I want to nourish those seeds to grow into something substantial in the new year.
“What are you talking about, Tim? Just tell us!” OK. As I shared with you in my conclusion to Romans, last week, one of the main themes of Paul’s letter to the Romans was the glory of both Jewish Christians and Roman Christians speaking with one voice. I want to steal from Romans to use some verses to introduce our theme for 2021.
Romans 15:5-13 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God's truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Others might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, "Therefore I will praise you among the Others, and sing to your name." And again, it is said, "Rejoice, O Others, with his people." And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Others, and let all the peoples extol him." And again, Isaiah says, "The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Others; in him will the Others hope." May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
The Greek word “ethnos” is translated as “Gentiles” most of the time. But in the New Testament ethnos is also translated as race, nation, people, or just pagans. It has the flavor of the other guys. From our perspective, it is those guys. I want to connect what we learned about the Others in Romans to our sermons in 2021. The Others are…
--to live in harmony;
--to speak with one voice;
--to be warmly welcomed.
--God expects the Others to rejoice in His mercy; glorify his name; acknowledge the Lord Jesus as their ruler; be empowered by the Holy Spirit! To abound in the hope of the Gospel. God loves the Other… as we should! Our theme for 2021 is “The Others”!
The “Others” has a duel meaning for me. I have a life goal of preaching the entire New Testament… before I hang up my spurs… or hang up my pulpit? Or hang up my iPad? Or whatever the metaphor might be… I know… hang up my metaphors. I want to preach all the books of the New Testament before I hang up my metaphors! I’m not sure when I will hang up the metaphors… but I feel like I need to pick up the pace a bit. So, part of the meaning of the “Others” is… the “Other” books in the New Testament. Get it? So, in 2021, we are going to study the “Other books” -which I have not preached- which are about the ethnos; the “Others. We have a duel meaning of the “Others”.
--Matthew in 2012 & 13
--Mark in 2017
--Luke/Acts in 07 & 08
--John in 2002
--Romans – last year… remember?
--1 & 2 Corinthians I taught in 2013 & 14. They are best taught, so I don’t think I will preach them.
--Galatians in 2009
--Ephesians in 2014
--Philippians - a long time ago.
--Colossians (not yet)
--1 & 2 Thessalonians in 2018
--1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (not yet)
--Philemon (not yet)
--Hebrews taught in 2003. Like 1 & 2 Corinthians, with much explaining, it is best taught.
--James in 1992
--1 & 2 Peter (not yet)
--1 John in 1996
--2 & 3 John, Jude (not yet)
--Revelation I taught in…2002. I’m not going to preach… it would be difficult.
That leaves 10 books of New Testament left. I need to get on with it. I think I might make; if the COVID doesn’t get me. So, I am thinking about, this year, hitting the no-chapter books and 2 Timothy. The no-chapter books are not divided into chapters. There is just a section with verses. The no-chapter books are Philemon, 2 & 3 John and Jude. Along with 2 Timothy, that gets half of the last 10. That gets me closer to my goal!
It’s a two for one theme... The other books and the Other people. The Theme for 2021 is “The Others”!
I’m not sure where, all, “The Others” will lead us throughout the year. I am going to be making it up as we go. But I know where it starts… in Paul’s letter to… Philemon.
“Wow, That’s exciting!”
The letter to Philemon is the shortest of Paul’s letters; thus, it is last. Paul’s letters are arranged by length. It is odd that Philemon is in The New Testament. Philemon is like a private message sent on Facebook that was mistakenly sent to everyone. But I’m glad we have it… because it reveals several amazing insights into how we should relate to the “Others”.
This morning, I want to explore the first seven verses… looking for relationship with “Others”.
Philemon 1-7 Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Before we even get to the point of the letter, I have discovered four “Others” principles! That’s what we are looking for… principles about how we interrelate with the “Others”.
Principle One Interrelating with the Others…
Paul has a special relationship with each Other.
Philemon 1-2Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved fellow worker and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:
Remember, in Romans Paul introduces himself as a servant and called to be an apostle. Paul reminded the Romans of his authority as a servant-apostle. But, here in Philemon, Paul has a softer touch, a personal touch, a sympathetic touch… Paul a prisoner for Christ Jesus. Paul reminds Philemon he is actually in jail as he writes this letter. More on that next week.
Philemon is a common Roman name meaning “kindly”; something like nice guy. In American it is… Buddy. It is a Roman name… Philemon is an… Other. He is not Jewish. Paul calls him beloved. This term is frequently reserved in Paul’s writings for those whom he has converted. Also, Philemon is sunergos; a with-worker. When Paul thinks of Philemon, he sees him as… Buddy… the precious co-worker!
The letter is also addressed to Apphia, who is most likely Philemon’s wife and co-host of the church in their house. There is some debate. But most likely Apphia is a Greek name meaning dear. Paul addresses her… “Yes, Dear, my sister.
Archippus is also address. Paul sees him as co-soldier. Archippus is also mentioned in…
Colossians 4:17And say to Archippus, "See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord."
Archippus is a minister in commission by the LORD to spread the Gospel! Paul sees him as a soldier! “Yes, Sir! Archippus, Sir!
Here is the first point of the Others in 2021. When we see Other… Christians, we need to train ourselves to see their value in the LORD. We know their names. We picture them as servant, worker, soldier, sister, precious, leader, host…
Wow… What if you had a value-name for all your relationships?
Principle Two Interrelating with the Others…
Paul has a prayer for the Other
Philemon 3-4Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers!
Charis/Grace and Shalom/Peace… Greek and Jewish greetings… Grace and peace from God and the LORD…
An offer of thanksgiving… eucharistō to God! I remember you in my prayers
Simple… powerful… point… Paul has a prayer for the Others.
Wow… What if we prayed grace on each other? What if we prayed peace for each other? What if we gave thanks for each other? In each encounter with Other Christians…we silently… blessed them!
Principle Three Interrelating with the Others…
Paul has a formula... love, faith, hope… for the Others.
Philemon 5-6…because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and all the saints, and I pray that the fellowship of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing (that sounds like hope) that is in us for the sake of Christ.
One of the fun things I have observed over the years is… The three most important things in the Christian life… faith, hope and love. In Paul’s writing he typically has these three, but he rearranges them to fit the situation.
1 Corinthians 13:13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is… love.
Galatians 5:5-6 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
Colossians 1:3-5 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in the heavens.
1 Thessalonians 1:3 Remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul names his formula, here in Philemon, as the fellowship of faith… Faith is fellowshipping with love for each other. Faith is in communion with hope. The fellowship of faith!
That is what it means to be a Christian! We demonstrate our love to the other. We merge our faith together. We know the good that is in and for each other. OR, My faith teaches me to love you, so we can share a hope together!
My job, toward you, yours toward me is…
--to do what is best for you… that is love.
--to work on our faith together… that’s called… theology
--encourage the hope we share… that’s exciting… praising God for our hope, together!
Wow… What if we worked on all three with the Others?
Principle Four Interrelating with the Others…
Paul takes joy and finds comfort from the Others.
Philemon 7 For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.
Instead of looking for the annoying in each other, we derive joy from each other. Instead of focusing on the glitches in others… I find the beauty. I see the joy!
Instead of worrying about each other, we trust each other… feel comfort in each other’s love.
The phrase translated as “hearts have been refreshed” in the Greek is… insides; guts… renewed.
DBH Philemon 7 For I have had a great deal of joy and comfort over your love, brother, because the inward parts of the holy ones have been refreshed by you.
I think this is a better expression, than heart. When I am worried about an other, or upset or in conflict with others, it is my guts that are queasy. I feel the tension in my insides. That was what 2020 was… this feeling of queasiness in my guts…
Wow… What if knowing your love for me made my insides relax?
Next time, in our study of Philemon, we will get to the point of Paul’s letter. We will see how Paul’s request to Philemon changes everything we know about how to relate to the “Others”. Paul’s view of the Others was dramatically different than his world… and ours. Next time, we will continue our dual theme of… “The Others”!
But today, I have a challenge… Almost like a Rubber Meets the Road thing. But that was last year. As you encounter each other this week, take a moment in your brain to…
--Think of that person’s value… value-name.
--Pray… grace, peace and thanksgiving on that person.
--See their faith, know their love, share their hope.
--Let your guts relax because you know they love you.
Welcome to 2021! It’s a New Year. It’s going to be fun.
January 3, 2021
Los Alamos Church of Christ
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