Toward the end of the apostle Paul’s life he writes a letter to a man named Philemon. Philemon had been intimately involved in the Colossian church and had built a reputation of being a man of character in the community. In the letter the apostle Paul goes on to affirm Philemon’s character and refers to him as a refresher. Leading me to consider, “What if the church was refreshing?”
6 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 7 Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Philemon was a business man, had a family, had responsibilities and it would have been really easy to be “too busy”, it would have been really easy to get caught up doing “good things”, but yet because of the love of Jesus he was moved to be a refresher of others. In the original language it means someone who comes in and relieves the pressure that has been weighing on others. Do you have some people in your life who are refreshing?
I have a friend who lives in California and he is in his young 30’s and he is a refresher. The first time I told him about starting North Village Church he was on board. He didn’t want to hear the plan, the vision, but just excited for us as we stepped out in faith to see a new church started. When we visited him in March we went out to lunch and he simply said, “My wife and I want to put $10K into helping you start the church.” We need the money, but we believe in what you are doing and we want to invest in what God is doing in you and through you. $10,000! That is a lot of money. When you step out to see a new church started there is a lot of pressure and in that one moment he relieved some pressure. He is a refresher. It wasn’t necessarily the money as much as it was the message God was sending us to affirm that this church wasn’t about us, but about Him and He was going to make it happen.
Can you imagine if the church collectively and individually had a reputation of being a refresher? Stepping into peoples lives and relieving pressure?
When we examine the church over the last 50 years it seems like it has lost some of its freshness. I don’t mean hip, trendy, and cool, but I mean some of its vibrancy, excitement, so that it is a benefit to the community. It has become a place that is defined by what it is against, instead of what it is for. It is seen as judgmental, condemning, lack of mercy, and we are in a city where only 8% of its population is involved in a church on a Sunday morning and you have to wonder if the church disappeared would the other 92% even notice? How did the church become so stale?
Doesn’t it seem like it should be more? Doesn’t it seem like when our “understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” is increased that it will result in a “faith that is active”? So that it bleeds into our homes, out into our neighborhoods, our work, and our hobbies? Perhaps when people come in contact with Christ-followers they aren’t beat down, ignored, judged, and belittled, but instead they are encouraged, challenged, and refreshed?