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Have you noticed how the Apostle Paul repeatedly references multiple associates—“fellow workers” and “ministers”—with whom he serves. As Colin Marshall and Tony Payne observe, “Up to 100 names are associated with Paul in the New Testament, of which around 36 could be considered close partners and fellow laborers.” [2] For example, there are Prisca and Aquila (Rom 16:3), Apollos (1 Cor 3:5), Tychichus (Eph 6:21), Epaphroditus (Phil 2:25), Epaphras (Col 1:7), and Timothy (1 Thess 3:2), to name just a few. In a word, Paul carried out his ministry within the context of a team.

I’m convicted by how easily contemporary Christians (me included) act like these fruits are nice-but-not-necessary features of the Christian life. We can all recite them, but how many of us intentionally pursue them? How many of us are deeply conscience stricken when they are not evident in our life? I know some of us are, and I’m deeply thankful for you. But, I feel like my vision of piety has been heavy in how-to-respond-to-God and insufficiently focused on the fruit of the Spirit – which is heavy in how we respond to people.

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, a light upon my path.” That’s how I memorized Psalm 119:105 as a young boy at Lamont Christian School. It’s hard to describe how much more precious that truth has become 50-some years later. I say that because I feel increasingly disoriented in today’s society. So much has changed.

Conspiracy theories have a way of grabbing our attention. Joe Carter defines a conspiracy as something that “…explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot, usually by powerful conspirators.” Whether it’s a fake moon landing, flat-earthers, the illuminati, or the reptilian elite (yes, you read that correctly), there is something simultaneously sensational, humorous, and pathetic about these claims.