Fighting together But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-
worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.
(Philippians 2:25 NIV) Because we’ll be on sabbatical in the month of May, Elsie and I will miss the
annual Partners in Harvest conference for church leaders. It is my favourite gathering of this type
because we get to meet many of our friends and fellow ministers of the gospel from various parts of
the world. We get to hang out for four days being friends, catching up and sometimes sharing the
pressures of leadership as we serve the Body of Christ. This puts me in mind of the relationship
that Paul had with Epaphroditus, or Eppie, as he was known to his close friends. Paul, used three
words to describe the relationship he had developed with Eppie. These three words speak of the
levels of relationship that they had with each other. First, Eppie was his brother, one of many
brothers and sisters. When we become Christians we are automatically adopted into the family of God.
A family of billions of people from every generation, tribe, language and part of the globe. It
might not be a perfect family; it might even be a bit dysfunctional, but it is a family which is
being transformed to look more and more like our Heavenly Daddy!
Second, Eppie wasn’t just a brother, he became a co-worker with Paul in his mission. On our faith
journey we get the privilege of serving alongside other co-labourers in God’s vineyard. We get to
work and overcome relational challenges together. Some of my longstanding friendships to this day
are with people that I’ve had the joy (sometimes eventually) of serving alongside on the mission
Third, not only was he a co-labourer, he became a fellow- soldier. This speaks to me of an even
deeper level of
relationship, which is created when you are connected to someone in a battle against a common enemy
– whether it be sickness, financial worries, relationship difficulties, or whatever the opposition
or crisis might be. The level of relationship that is forged in these kinds of circumstances can go
really deep! It seems to me that in our fragmented world where the value of independence is at a
high premium one of our greatest needs, relationally, is for fellow-soldiers. We are in need of
people that we can rely on to truly ‘have our back’ in the midst of challenge and crisis. Because we
are part of the Body of Christ we all have brothers and sisters. Some of us serve with other
Christians, either in the church or outside, so we have co-workers. But do we have fellow-soldiers
in our lives? Do you need a fellow-soldier in your life? Then be a fellow-soldier in someone else’s
life. You’ll be blessed with deep and meaningful relationships.