“Gunsmoke” was my favorite TV show when I was a kid. Every Saturday night, I would sit with my bowl of popcorn and watch Matt Dillon restore order to Dodge City while my mother did up my hair in pin curls. I loved Matt and Miss Kitty and Doc and Festus. Especially Festus.
Long before cowboys shortened “How do you do?” to “Howdy!”, and centuries before Louis L’Amour turned “partner” into “pardner”, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to his friends in Philippi saying, “Howdy, pardners!” That’s a loose translation. He actually said,
“In all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” Phil. 1:4-5
Paul was no Lone Ranger. He knew he needed partners in this endeavor to win the world for Christ. One reason Paul loved the Philippian church so much was because they were all-in — they participated in the mission, they contributed to the cause, they were committed and involved at every level. They didn’t start strong and then wimp out. They didn’t call themselves partners and then leave all the work to somebody else. They had signed on the dotted line — with all their heart, mind, soul and strength.
The word “partnership” has reverberated in my soul.
The question begs to be asked:
What kind of a partner in the gospel am I?
Am I a hang-on-the-fringes-show-up-when-it’s-convenient partner?
Am I a hot-when-things-are-going-good-but-cold-when-things-aren’t partner?
Am I a someday-I’ll-get-involved-when-I’m-not-so-busy-with-life partner?
Or am I a get-in-the-trenches-and-give-what-I’ve-got-even-though-it-doesn’t-seem-like-much-but-I-can’t-be-half-hearted-about-this-because-Jesus-gave-his-life-to-offer-me-full-partnership kind of partner?
In the words of Festus,
“The onliest thing you get from stradlin’ the fence is a sore backside.”