Youth Ministry wisdom oozed out of my friend as she shared her advice for this generation. “Just find that one,” she said, explaining that people often advise teens to find a group of friends. “Really,” she stated, “all you need is that one.” It might not always have to be the same one, and doesn’t have to be the only one, but everyone needs someone to love, and be loved by.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, talked about how grateful he was to have partners in ministry. We are all in ministry, whether we have a specific title or not. As Jesus sent His disciples to go and spread the Gospel truth to the world, so we are still being sent to deliver His message of love today. The sending and the going will continue until Jesus returns.
Everyone needs someone. God is faithful to place us, purposefully, to be that one for someone. His compassion and love for us provisionally assures us that we, too, have someone. Square one is an expression of new beginnings. When applicable to our relationships in life, big shifts which have left us socially alone are hard and hurtful. It may seem we’ll never connect with anyone ever again. Our walls might go up, boundaries become protective borders, and bitterness sits in the passenger seat instead of the next someone who is waiting to be a part of our lives.
Have faith, if someone is removed from our lives, God’s got a reason. It’s OK if we don’t understand it. He is always our someone. When we feel lost and alone, the only one who is able to fill that void is Jesus. Yes, God will always make sure we are never alone, but we must be careful not to expect the qualities of Christ Jesus from other people in perfection. Jesus, alone, can be Jesus. He is all we need, and always with us. When we find Him first and follow Him, alone, we will find our people.
The Value of Friendship
“…you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).
Paul describes his friends as partners. A partner is “a person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor; a silent partner.” As a verb, partner means “to associate as a partner or partners with; to serve as the partner of.” The New American Standard translation of the Bible reads:
“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5).
The Greek word for participation is koinonia, meaning “fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, and intimacy.” The same sentiment is used in Acts 2:42:
“They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”
The early disciples did life together. They lived in proximity to each other, and embraced the fellowship God provided for them in sharing the Gospel. None of us do life perfectly. We all sin every day. But in our mutual lack and constant sin, we should confide in and encourage each other. The compassion believers in Christ Jesus have for each other separates us from the world. It solidifies the message of the Gospel for those who are straining to hear it.
The Mission of Ministry
“All the believers devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
The mission of ministry is living the Gospel truth out in our lives, in addition to speaking the Gospel truth to those who haven’t heard it. To those who have never heard of, or understood the Gospel of Christ Jesus, the witness of our lives is important evidence.
Partnership with other believers in ministry (which is everyday life – title in ministry or not) allows us to say more than our words ever could. We allow Christ Jesus to love others through us, when we live what we know about Him.
“The Philippine’s partnership in the gospel includes their financial support of Paul (4:15-16) and their concern for his well-being,” the ESV Global Study Bible explains. Supporting each other goes beyond well-laced sentiments. Our compassion for each other shows in the way we act on another’s behalf. As followers of Christ Jesus, we are called to love God with all of our hearts, and our neighbors as ourselves.
Ministering to each other literally means to “give service, care, or aid; attend, as to wants or necessities.” Wants or necessities. Faithfulness to the Lord allows us to know who we need to love, and how. Walking in the guidance of the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to listen to the Lord’s leading on our lives.
People are placed specifically in our lives, part of the mission of ministry, for us to serve. When we wholeheartedly serve the people God is calling us to tend to, in whatever way they need to be loved when He tags us in, He makes sure we are cared for.
We Never Walk Alone
Partners. Participation. We are never alone when we live our lives within the love of Christ Jesus. “I am with you always,” He promised, “to the end of the age.” Forever, we walk side by side with our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. By His Holy Spirit, we have the power and strength to follow His lead. Through our lives, His will produces effective change in the hearts of those around us. The change in our own hearts is a witness to those around us, and we get to witness the heart change only He is capable of accomplishing, though we often get to be His accomplices.
The full life Jesus died to give us surrounds us. We are immersed in Living Water, empowered by the power of the Living God living in us. We have the constant company of the One True God, but the promise of someone to be that one for us. The one we faithfully pray for, so we don’t have to physically go it alone on this earth. Someone to laugh with, partner with, serve, love, and befriend. The Lord is the most faithful Friend. He desires relationship with us, and exists in relationship Himself: Father, Son, and Spirit.
Let us pray, today, for that one.
“Whenever you cross my mind, I thank my God for you and for the gift of knowing you. My spirit is lightened with joy whenever I pray for you (and I do constantly) because you have partnered with me to spread the gospel since the first day I preached to you” (Philippians 1:3-5, The Voice paraphrase).
When we faithfully, and wholeheartedly seek Jesus first, we will find all we need, and provincially more.