As we SHIFT into the unveiling plans of God for our wonderful community here at FreshFire, it’s time to start looking at the importance of community and what makes our community strong, growing and aligned together in the purposes of God.
Honour is a core value in our house. Unlike some places where honour is showed only to those in hierarchy, we practice a culture of honour where we search out the intrinsic value in each person. I believe that there is an opportunity to tap into a the anointing of Onesiphorus - a grace that will make FreshFire a truly special place for everyone.
Other than a greeting in the fourth chapter of 2nd Timothy, the extent of what Paul writes about Onesiphorus can be found in two verses in 2nd Timothy chapter 1, verses 16-18:
“May the Lord show mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, because he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains. On the contrary, when he was in Rome, he searched hard for me until he found me. May the Lord grant that he will find mercy from the Lord on that day! You know very well in how many ways he helped me in Ephesus.”
What a short, but significant tribute! Not everyone gets to be Paul... but what a thing to be the person that loves and encourages Paul like this! We can learn a lot from Paul’s commendation of Onesiphorus and applying these principles can go a long way to building a community culture where everyone feels valued, honoured and refreshed by one another. Let’s look at some key points that Paul makes and apply them to our relationships in our community:
- Onesiphorus Refreshed Paul - Paul was actively travelling on mission around the Ancient Graeco-Roman World. He would often stay in the homes of fellow believers. Thus, refreshment would have involved fresh food and water, finance and possibly new clothes and footwear. Of course, refreshing would also have included the spiritual in that Onesiphorus probably spent a lot of time praying for Paul. Think of ways you can practically refresh one another and generously give to one another.
- Onesiphorus Unashamedly Supported Paul - When persecution hits it is often the case that you know who your real friends are. During trial Peter withdrew from Jesus and rejected Him. The other disciples ran for their lives. Many questioned Jesus’ Messiahship when He was incarcerated and eventually crucified. Jesus said: “Blessed is He who does not stumble on account of Me” (Matthew 11: 6). Onesiphorus encapsulated this spirit. He remained faithful to Paul during his most difficult season of persecution. He was not ashamed that Paul was in bondage. He showed love, compassion and loyalty. Often in churches we remove ourselves from people’s crazy bondage-filled lives. We seek to avoid being associated. Not so with Onesiphorus. He commits himself to his fellow man and suffers with him. We can and should be prepared to associate with those who seem to be struggling. We should commit to loving those who are bound by the issues of life. We should not shy away from getting in the dirt. We should love as Jesus loved. Seek out those who are bound and heavy-laden and be near them comforting them through their trial.
- Onesiphorus Searched For Paul - Onesiphorus loved Paul passionately and was committed to relationship. Why not take time to think about those church family members whom you haven’t seen for a while? Search them out. Reconnect with them. Let your love for the house and for one another compel you to search out those who may be distracted, discouraged and isolated. Take responsibility for one another and commit to building a house where everyone feels valued, honoured and refreshed.
- Onesiphorus Helped Paul - During Paul’s time in Ephesus he planted a church. Onesiphorus was a committed servant in that church plant. Paul said that Onesiphorus helped him in ‘many ways’. You can be like him. There are many ways in which you can help to grow our community and build the house of God. From serving on welcome teams, set-up teams, stewarding, children’s ministry and hospitality - there’s always some way you can serve the house.
I believe if we can adopt these simple principles that we can build a powerful community where everyone feels a part of the family of God. Not only that but positive attitude and commitment to serve will attract the mercy of God. You will find that God bestows favour, mercy and blessing upon you as you commit to such a way of life. So what are you waiting for? Tap into the anointing of Onesiphorus and let’s work together to build a fantastic community of love, faith and adventure.
All the best with your fasting.