I was sitting in the back row of church, safely away from my parents and, I thought, anyone who could see me not listening to the sermon. That particular Sunday, an older leader in our church was filling in while the pastor was away.
A teenager at the time, I was doing what I’m sure none of the teens in our church do. I was passing notes and making jokes with my friends, who were very clearly being a negative influence on me. (Insert tongue in cheek here.) That’s when it happened.
The substitute-preacher called out, “You boys may think this is funny, but death is a serious thing!”
Fortunately he did not call us out by name, although that did not end up keeping me out of trouble from my parents after church was over. Since I could not actually tell them what the sermon was about, I had no defense.
The only solace is that I’m sure I won’t be the last person to have been called out in church. Nor was I the first. The letters we read in the New Testament were often read in a church service, then passed around to other churches. If we read the letters like sermons, then we often find shout-outs at the end. This was Paul’s pattern, greeting people he knew in each town.
In Colossians 4, one such shout-out ends up looking like a call out.
“Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” ~Colossians 4:17
‘Hey Archie! You’ve got a job to do; don’t forget it!’ Honestly, I see this verse and try to imagine what the previous conversations have been like between Paul and Archie. I imagine that while Paul was in Colosse, these two established a relationship and discussed what God might have for Archie to do. And now Paul was reminding him to get it done.
Today this sort of thing would likely be done by email or text message. We rarely see private conversations being held in public worship services and I’m not suggesting that I might try that from the stage.
However, I will point out that we have very likely had conversations. If we haven’t, then you and God have. I’ll also point out that much ministry is happening within the Church today. But we haven’t escaped the declaration by Jesus in Matthew 9 that ‘the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.’
Many exciting things are happening right now. Make sure you’re a part of completing the work ‘you have received in the Lord.’