#2 - Usefulness

Tuesday 26 Sep, 2023

There’s a guy on Youtube who releases videos of useless inventions that he has come up with, personally I think he has too much time on his hands, but they do make for a good laugh. He’s created crocs for your hands, an umbrella for your phone and what he calls flop flips (flip flops with an inverted sole that make your footprints look like you’re walking backwards). His inventions are useless and there’s no point in keeping them.

I’m not a huge fan of keeping things that aren’t useful, but sometimes things that have at times been useless can become useful.

There’s a bit of irony in the short book of Philemon and it’s all around the former slave and former thief, Onesimus. Onesimus means useful, it would have been the ideal name for a slave in the first Century who lived in the family home, an ancient equivalent of butlers (although I doubt any of us have experience of having employees like butlers!).

But the irony is that Onesimus was not useful, as his name might suggest. Paul says in Philemon verse 11 “Formerly he [meaning Onesimus] was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.”

What changed in Onesimus’s life that made him to go from being ‘useless’ to ‘useful’? He became a Christian, he was confronted with the gospel and his entire life changed. From that moment on he became ‘useful’ to Paul. Based on Paul’s missionary focus and desire to share Jesus with the world, I imagine that means that Onesimus became a fellow brother in the trenches of sharing Jesus wand encouraging Christians and local churches (Colossians 4:9).

One mark of the life of every Christian is usefulness - whether that is realised or not. Often our lack of confidence can make us feel that we can’t serve. Maybe you think that your age is stopping you from serving, maybe you think that your past means that you’re not fit to serve anymore. God can, and does, use His people to bless and serve the local church with the gifts that He has given them (Ephesians 4:1-16).

God has given every Christian gifts that they can use to serve Him, to encourage others and to strengthen the local church. Personally, I’ve been so encouraged by people using their God-given gifts to bless others.

How has God wired you? What gifts has He given you that you can use to serve Him? Every Christian should be making themselves available, and be willing, to be used by God to fulfil His plan for your life, His church and this world. You’re part may be up front, it may be in serving behind the scenes, encouraging others 1-1, or it may be serving the Lord on your knees as you pray for people. The Lord can use every single person. One mark of a Christian is that they have a desire to be, and are actively making an effort, to be useful to the Lord. Why not consider how you can serve the church by using your gifts, it may be on welcome, serving tea and coffee or reading in a service?

Serving Jesus isn’t only the duty of every Christian, but it is also a privilege and joy. As the Hymn, There is Joy in Serving Jesus (1931 by Oswald Smith), says

“There is joy in serving Jesus, As I journey on my way, Joy that fills the heart with praises, Ev’ry hour and ev’ry day.”