Concluding his letter to the Roman believers, Paul writes (Romans 16:1 – 16) about his beloved brothers and sisters in Christ by name:
Phoebe, a deaconess, possible the carrier of Paul’s very letter to Rome.
Priscilla and Aquila, a couple who risked their lives for Paul, inseparable in their marriage and ministry. They had a church that met in their house and you can’t imagine that no-one had heard of them. A mama and papa hen with a heaving nest of chicks.
The household of Aristobulus, from which we may infer that there were a bunch of Christians in this man’s household, but not Aristobulus himself. If so, he was almost certainly the subject of an army of loving prayer warriors on their knees for his salvation.
Rufus, a man chosen in the Lord. Not too many guys with the name Rufus out there. Perhaps its old fashioned and currently only the choice of hipsters for their children. But Paul knew Rufus and he was known to the Lord as well.
A lot of people get a mention. Enough names that if Paul were accepting an award at the Oscars, the band would begin playing their musical cue for him to start wrapping things up. Paul could probably have crammed in some more names, but he goes on to mention brothers and sisters whose lives and service may not otherwise be noted by historians, but were noticed by him: Herodian (a relative), Tryphena and Tryphosa (who worked hard in the Lord), Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, Olympas and all the saints with him.
I doubt I would ever be in the same position as Paul, looking back on years of ministry of having established numerous churches in faraway places and looking now to Christians battling it out in the belly of the beast, writing an epistle and encouraging them as a spiritual mentor.
Nobody writes actual letters anymore. If, however, I ever had to pen a letter to Believers, somewhere I would mention those I had thought about, those who had made an impression on me.
Although, in this thought-experiment, I wouldn’t be constrained by a point of time or local geography.
Seasoned and solid saints like John Martin, Cliffy Rutter, John Schultz, Granny Louise.
Pastors at whose feet I have been taught: Noel, Pedro, Wolfie, Mark.
A list of years in the making, of Christians who have built into my life whether personally, lyrically or electronically: Brian, R.C. Sproul, Louie Giglio, Steven Curtis Chapman, Chris Tomlin, Aaron Shus.
Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh, Iranian believers whose testimony I listened to recently, and took me into Evin prison with those persecuted for their faith.
Philip Yancy and J.I. Packer who opened up my mind to see God in unexpected places and with systematic focus.
As Paul had impacted the lives of Christians, so others had impacted his life. This is why we gather together. This is why we need church.