Hidden Figures

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him witness that he has a great zeal for you, and those who are in Laodicea, and those in Hierapolis. Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea, and Nymphas and the church that is in his house.”—Colossians 4:12–15 (NKJV)

Hidden Figures is a powerful movie which tells the story of a group of African American women who worked for NASA as mathematicians during the space race in the 1960s and 1970s. It’s a beautiful account of the impact these women had on the success and safety of the space program and in their personal lives. There was play on words for the title “hidden figures” because they excelled in mathematics, and they were very important people who were behind the scenes that nobody heard about.

Scripture gives us many names of people of whom there is little to no information on. Some; however, did have a brief description and acknowledgement of their lives and influence.

Paul purposely lists his friends Epaphras, Luke, and Nymphas as he concludes his letter to the Colossians. Paul honored Epaphras as a fellow servant, fellow prisoner, faithful minister, and man of prayer. Herbert Lockyer writes, “His prayers for the stability and maturity of others were numerous, continuous and strenuous. He labored for others with great anxiety.” Epaphras was a wonderful example of what Paul instructed us to do in Romans 15:30 (NIV): “I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.”

In the book Life Together, author Dietrich Bonhoeffer speaks of the impact of intercessory prayer. “Intercession means no more than to bring our brother into the presence of God, to see him . . . in need of grace. His need and his sin become so heavy and oppressive that we feel them as our own, and we can do nothing else but pray: Lord, deal with him according to thy severity and thy goodness. To make intercession means to grant our brother the same right that we have received, namely, to stand before Christ and share in his mercy. It is daily service we owe to God and our brother. Intercession is a gift of God’s grace.”

Luke was a close friend and companion to Paul. He was a beloved physician and writer of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. I once heard a pastor call Luke “the man who wrote the most beautiful book in the world.” He used his God-given abilities to write the words of the Savior, so you and me can read them and grow in Christ. And we see Nymphas model the kind of hospitality all believers should aspire to by opening her house as a meeting place for believers.

Friends, like all the people just mentioned, you are as important and vital to the body of Christ in God’s kingdom. And God wants to use you to impact others the same way He did these brothers and sisters. So, where is He calling you to serve?

DIG: What characteristics stood out from the hidden figures Paul mentions?

DISCOVER: Read Acts 2:42-47 and 1 Corinthians 1:26-27. God honors His servants in doing His kingdom work. How are you fulfilling your calling to be a true servant of the King of Glory? We all long to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23 NIV)!

DO: In this passage, we saw various people walking in their gifts and callings. We saw believers modeling devoted Christian service. Pray and ask the Lord to bring opportunities for you to use your gifts to serve others in this season.