How Would You Describe Yourself?
Chan Gin Kai
Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, to Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker – also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier - and to the church that meets in your home: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philemon 1:1-3)
Paul called himself a prisoner of Christ, and considered himself fellow workers and fellow soldiers with Philemon and Archippus. How would you describe yourself?
Prisoner Of Christ
Written by Apostle Paul during his Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:30-31), Paul described himself as a prisoner of Christ. He didn’t consider himself to be a prisoner of Rome, or his enemies, the religious leaders who persecuted him. Instead, he called himself a prisoner of Christ, a description he gave himself in Ephesians 3:1 too.
Paul did not see human beings and their actions as the reason for his imprisonment, but saw a divine reason instead. He said very much the same in Ephesians 6:12 - “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”.
He saw the things that happen in our world as the result of the spiritual battle between God and Satan, and he was firmly on the side of God. He knew he wouldn’t have been in chains unless God had willed it for His purpose, and he was a willing participant because he trusted in God’s plans.
Do we try to see beyond the events in our physical world and gain an understanding into the spiritual realm? There are spiritual reasons for physical occurrences. We need to realise that God is at work in our lives and the world around us. He has a plan for the world, and our role in it. But do we trust in His plans?
Paul had also taught in Romans 6:15-18 that we are either “slaves to sin” or “slaves to righteousness”. We serve either God or Satan. We are imprisoned by either one of them, there’s no third choice. Paul chose to be a prisoner of Jesus. Who do you choose to be a prisoner of?
Paul called Philemon “our dear friend and fellow worker”. From this address, we can see they obviously had a great relationship, and they laboured together for the Kingdom of God. It is interesting that Paul uses “fellow worker” to address Philemon in the opening of a letter. We usually start our letters with respectful and pleasing honorifics, so Paul knew that Philemon would have been proud to be called a “fellow worker”.
What honorific pleases you? Leader? Mentor? Pastor? Evangelist? Or some other impressive sounding title? Are you more focused on the role and function of the position, or the status of it? We are servants of God and called to be workers in the plentiful harvest field (Matthew 9:37-38).
Let’s be proud to be workers in God’s Kingdom. To be able to serve Him is reward enough for us. To be able to please Him means so much more than the good opinion of men.
Are we diligent workers? Let’s not hold back in our service towards God and His people.
Archippus is presumed by some scholars to be Philemon’s son. Since Paul addressed Apphia (probably the wife) and Archippus before addressing “the church that meets at your home”, then Apphia and Archippus must be closer to Philemon. Thus it is assumed they are his family members.
Paul called Archippus “our fellow soldier”. It must feel good for a young man to be called that by the ‘super-Apostle’ Paul. There’s no way Paul is prone to flattery, and we know the extreme hard work and struggles that Paul went through for the Kingdom. So Archippus must have fought admirably beside Paul to be addressed as such.
Do we give up easily in the spiritual war that we face daily? It is tempting to just lie in bed longer and skip our quiet times. It is alluring to let our eyes linger a little longer on a sexy poster. It is discouraging to help people who suck away our energy. It is heartbreaking to receive backstabs as payment for the love we’ve poured out.
But we must not give up fighting, for our final victory is already secured in Christ. And we can have courage because God is fighting for us.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.” (Deuteronomy 20:4)
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God".