complete your call

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our dear friend and co-worker, to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier, and to the church in your house:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon 1:1-3

And say to Archippus, “See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.”

Colossians 4:17

Archippus I’m guessing was likely a leader in the church, at least considered a fellow soldier with Paul in the spiritual battle in which we’re in. He may have been nearing the end of his life, although we don’t know. The word given to him by Paul at almost the very end of the letter to the Colossians can apply to us at different ages, and I think refers to the sense of calling God puts in each one of us. What brings us life and passion? That likely is what God has instilled in us for the service of the gospel, or for the good of humanity. And as believers, we all have our gift and calling that goes with that gift within the church.

We best work hard to both figure out what that calling is, and stay true to it, work hard at both. To finish it, yes, complete the work God has called and is calling us to do. We each have our task whatever it is, and since it’s from God, it’s never mundane or secondary. It fits in with the whole of what God is doing. We need to do our part and get it done. God will help us. In and through Jesus.

get back to what you’re supposed to do, what you’re to be focused on

And say to Archippus, “See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.”

Colossians 4:17

This is Paul’s last word in this letter before his closing greeting or salutation. Archippus was evidently someone in the fellowship of those who received this letter who may have been older, or had some specific task assigned to him. It really doesn’t matter. Since we don’t know, we certainly can apply it to ourselves in various ways.

Oftentimes we get lost because we’ve gone adrift and we get washed up somewhere, ending up out of sorts. And that’s when we need to get back to how God is directing us. We’re almost certainly in such cases off track. What is our assignment now? What are we supposed to be doing?

This recently happened to me. I was sad and just not myself for over a day. Then it dawned on me, I need to get back into what the Lord seemed to want me to focus on to put into life. The book of James. In my case that doesn’t mean I can’t dither into this and that on the side. But whatever else I find to do, this needs to be a focus the entire time. And there’s plenty to that book. And as you might expect, it speaks to me in some important ways for my life. A relief and release to get back into that. Something I must keep doing right now.

In and through Jesus.

ending well

For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

2 Timothy 4:6-8

None of us should compare ourselves with the Apostle Paul, and I don’t belong with him in the same breath at all, of course. But Paul’s words here does seem to include all the rest of us, when you see how they end. And we are told elsewhere to follow his example as he follows Christ. So we can find solace and hope there.

Like Paul, then, we can live out our lives for Christ, for others, even for our enemies, and through the most difficult of times fully. Akin to “being poured out like a drink offering” to God. Realizing that we indeed are in a fight, the good fight, elsewhere the good fight of the faith. That we are in a race no less. And that we’re to keep or hold on to the faith.

I think it’s as simple as that. We’re not to be Apostle Pauls going everywhere preaching the gospel, planting churches, etc. But we’re to be what God has called each one of us individually to be within the community of faith. We simply need to be a light in the way God purposes for us as individuals with all the other lights. When you look at the rest of Paul’s letters, that will be evident.

We want things to be better now, but we long for Christ’s appearing when what’s wrong will be judged, and all the wrongs set right. And when the new will be completely present. Something we begin to taste now, which whets our appetites. In a way we can’t wait. But we settle in now, wanting to end well. To finish like Paul did. May God grant that. In and through Jesus.

finishing well

Are we there at the end? No matter what happened midway, or even at the beginning. Someone may have had a great start in their faith, with seemingly endless possibilities. Yet somehow or another didn’t take hold of the help they needed, and stumbled badly midway. And it may have taken some time to recover, and get over. It could be any number of things. The point is that one did not continue well in their faith, and suffered loss as a result, which probably in some way or another has impact the rest of their life.

There’s a lot involved in finishing well; look at the entire Bible. But at the heart of it for us in Jesus, is the fact that we are in Jesus, usually in scripture: “in Christ.” That we have the promise of God’s faithful work in our lives to be completed when Jesus returns (Philippians 1:6). Too often though, we look at that as if it’s automatic. God is faithful for sure, and we often are not. But the context in that Philippians passage makes it clear that this is contingent upon us. Paul was referring to those who had become partners with him in the gospel. At least their lives being a witness to the gospel’s truth, impact and power.

We need the will and determination to keep going after this no matter what. Knowing we can only do so in Christ Jesus in God’s will with the Spirit’s help. So that in the end, we’ll be there along with many others. Finishing well. Maybe beaten up and bloodied, or just plain sore. But there, in and through Jesus.