“To bring you up to date, Tychicus will give you a full report about what I am doing and how I am getting along. He is a beloved brother and faithful helper in the Lord’s work. I have sent him to you for this very purpose—to let you know how we are doing and to encourage you.”
Ephesians 6:21-22 NLT
No social media, internet, email, texts or WhatsApp in Paul’s days. Instead, communication was all about quill pens and personal visits. Paul was obviously allowed visitors into his prison cell. Perhaps they were able to bring him food, keeping him up to date with all the latest news. Able to pray with him. And of course assess how Paul was “getting along”. Note that Paul used the wording, “to let you know how we are doing”. Paul was obviously not just on his own – there were others possibly imprisoned with him. But perhaps the Roman church was supporting Paul, and it was to them that Paul referred.
One of his visitors was a man called Tychicus. He popped up several times in the New Testament, mentioned for supporting and serving Paul’s ministries and missionary journeys. One of those shadowy characters who were never obviously involved in up-front ministries, though he may well have been, but nevertheless performed very important serving roles. Paul’s opinion of Tychicus was glowing – he was a “beloved brother” and a “faithful helper“. And of course he was devoted to doing the “Lord’s work“. What a testimony!
On this occasion, Tychicus’ service to Paul was to travel from Rome to Ephesus, to bring Paul’s Ephesian friends the news about what was happening to him in Rome, and to encourage them. No mean ask in those days. Even though the Roman civil engineering skills had opened up travel routes and opportunities, there would also have been some potentially hazardous sea journeys involved. But not even a hint that he was unwilling to make the journey. A willing servant who was sent for a purpose.
Back to our pilgrim illustration. Paul planted a church in Ephesus. A fellowship of believers who cared for each other and were growing together, encouraging one another on their journeys. What role do we pilgrims have in our local church? Or are we making our own journey alone? Jesus said that He would build His church, implying that we pilgrims should be a part of one. This may not be an easy request, because some local churches we consider are far from ideal, perhaps having a vision different to ours, or involved in liturgies which we don’t agree with, but there will be a local church that we should be a part of somewhere. Even if we have to move house or job to join it. However, having said that, of course there are some parts of the world where to be a church member is an impossible dream because of local or national persecution. But Jesus cares for us all regardless of our circumstances. And where possible, His caring is often dispensed through a local church.
As pilgrims, what role do we have in our local church? Are we in an up-front ministry? Only a few are called for such a role. Or are we a Tychicus? In a support and serving role? Or just a pew warmer, not really involved in much at all? These two verses today emphasise the role pilgrims should have. We must always be looking for a way to serve our fellow brothers and sisters. Always looking for a way to encourage and love, with a “can-do” attitude. Always willing to devote our time and resources to support the brothers and sisters, who, like Paul was, are at the sharp end of building Jesus’ church.