Colossians 4:7–9 NRSV
Tychicus will tell you all the news about me; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts; he is coming with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.
Have you heard of Tychicus?
I’ve always thought of these closing greetings in Paul’s letters as the honorable mentions section. Honestly, I’ve paid little to no attention to the names. It’s always felt to me like Paul was giving props to his posse or a shout-outs to his entourage. I guess it’s cool if you were Tychicus’s uncle or something. Honorable mention in the bible is no small thing.
Let me tell you a little bit about Tychicus. It turns out he was a rock star in his own right. We have it on good evidence Tychicus was one of “the Seventy,” the group of disciples Jesus sent out in Luke 10. Yes, Tychicus knew the Jesus. He was a direct disciple. He could have made a career out of that social capital, only there were no ministry careers in those days. So, he went to jail with Paul and carried his mail and whatever else needed to be done to move the movement forward. Though he was not famous for the gospel, nor ever shall he be, he was a person of gospel acclaim.
There’s gospel acclaim and then there’s being famous for the gospel. People who are famous for the gospel are a dime a dozen. No one’s name gets mentioned in the New Testament because they wrote a viral blog post or authored a best-selling book or pastored a megachurch.
We live in the Kardashian age of marketing machines, where people become famous for simply being famous. It’s not limited to Hollywood reality TV. The ministry is rife with fame hounds. We clickbait our way to a viral blog post. We write books and become YouTube stars. We are famous for the gospel without any real gospel acclaim. We haven’t been in jail with the apostle Paul or beaten within an inch of our life for our faith or otherwise buried our lives like seeds in some forgotten ghetto in Memphis.
In the scheme of things, very few people will ever be famous for the gospel. It’s unfortunate how in the present age those are the people who get all the press and they tend to be the people we look to. The beauty of the gospel is that anyone can receive gospel acclaim—which means literally “to shout.” Gospel acclaim is the shout of heaven, and it happens every time someone reckons with Domino #3/3—“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3)—and tips Domino #3|1—“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).
These days, the church would be better served if we knew a lot more names like Tychicus. We need to make it our business to find out the name of someone who was martyred last week, the young woman’s name who left for Tanzania after college to translate the Bible into a language yet to be written down, the name of the farmer who loaned too much money to his workers without expectation of repayment, and the name of the woman who works at the corner coffee shop who quietly serves people more like a shepherd than a barista.
Let’s call Domino #4/7 Tychicus, one who is small in stature with massive tipping effect.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is the gospel’s acclaim. Train us to follow him and all those he acclaims. Save me from the seduction of seeking fame, and steer me clear of following the merely famous. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- Who comes to your mind when you think of a person of gospel acclaim? From the past? From your present?
- What is it about fame that is so seductive to our present age?
- What would it look like for you to set your sights on the hidden glory of gospel acclaim— to hear the shout of heave?
For the Awakening,