Step Up to Connect!

 Keeping up with family and friends during the Pandemic is going way better than expected. We are still wearing our masks, social distancing and not meeting together in traditional ways these days, but we are connecting. We have learned different ways to check in on family and friends, celebrate special occasions, and participate throughout the week in worship and small group studies both near and far. The key has been through digital connections using our smart phone, laptop computer and other such devices. Thanks to technology, we are staying current with those who are near and dear to us!

Eloise's Refrigerator Art
Matt, Brady, Eloise, Mimi and Poppi

We use these virtual connections for casual conversations, serious discussions and on occasions, for sharing recipes. Just this week, Klayton Michael, our fifth-grade grandson, "popped in" from New Mexico to talk to his Mimi by way of a video chat. 

Klay called to review the recipe for a Jell-O cake that is one of his mom's favorite desserts. It was a surprise for her birthday! And yes, he has experience with cooking and baking! You ought to see him with his apron on and a spatula firmly in hand! Klay followed up a day later to show off his good work and allow us to brag on him for how successful he was in creating this special treat for his mother!

Can you imagine a world without the Internet and connecting devices? How would we keep up with others? The Apostle Paul had neither means of connectivity during the first-century and yet, he masterfully kept up with those friends who supported him during an era when the primary means of transportation was walking, riding a lumbering animal, or by ship over tumultuous seaways. The distances have not changed. Ephesus is still about 900 miles on land from Corinth and the straight line distance by sea would be about 240 miles. It took days and weeks to travel these distances during Bible times.

When we look at Paul's missionary journeys in the Book of Acts, it is incredible the number of miles he traveled. One estimate is that the Apostle during this time walked 5,000 miles over 250 days or eight months and traveled another 5,300 miles by sea! (http://www.julianspriggs.co.uk/Pages/Travel) If you assumed that the disciples of that time stayed close to home, you would be wrong! They travelled extensively all over the area. Follow the biblical record and you'll see that Aquila and Priscilla start in Rome, go to Corinth, travel on to Ephesus, and then return to Rome. 

Paul's trusted friend Tychicus was another Christ-follower who traveled widely and often! His name means "fortuitous" and it was fortuitous for Paul to have had such a loyal friend that he could count on! All we know about him is from five scripture references. He is first mentioned in Acts 20:4 while Paul is on his first missionary journey. He serves as a travel companion along with a half-dozen of Paul's close friends who are traveling from Corinth to Jerusalem to deliver the relief offering collected from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia. 

In Ephesians 6:21, Tychicus is commended as a "dear brother" and "faithful servant." In Colossians 4:7, he is regarded as a "faithful minister and fellow servant." In that same reference, it is noted that he is being entrusted with delivering one of Paul's letters to the churches in Ephesus and Colossae that would inform the congregations about his circumstances and welfare. Paul assures them that Tychicus will encourage their hearts and tell them everything that is happening in Rome (4:8-9). Ephesians 6:22 also describes Tychicus as an encourager. 

The Colossian passage further notes that Tychicus is accompanying Onesimus, the runaway slave of Philemon, as he returns home to his master (Col. 4:9). Many believe this also shows how much Paul trusts his encouraging friend, Tychicus, to return the slave in a way that maintains his relationship with Philemon.

In a final passage, Paul dispatches Tychicus from Rome to Ephesus to fill-in like an interim pastor for Titus and Timothy allowing them the freedom to visit Paul (2 Timothy 4:12). Although not directly mentioned, many commentators think that the unnamed believer mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8:22 as a "another trusted friend who's proven his dependability many times over" is likely a reference to Tychicus. In short, Tychicus helped Paul to keep connected with his "shuttle diplomacy," faithful and dependable service, and gift of encouragement!

Are you the "Tychicus-type" of Christ follower throughout your life, church and community? Do you help to keep the whole of us connected with each other? We need "relational connectors" at a time when things tend to pull us apart! Will you step up to connect with loved ones, friends, and even acquaintances within your digital reach? 

Mike Keppler, retired pastor, 
active churchman and
doting grandparent.
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


Comments

  1. I read this column to my blind pastor friend in a nursing home in Albany, GA and he said that it was a good word!

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