If the Lord Jesus is willing, I hope to send Timothy to you soon for a visit. Then he can cheer me up by telling me how you are getting along. I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare. All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ. (NLT)
Whenever we are tempted to idealise the early church, passages like this are a great corrective. Paul is in prison and wants to check up on his readers. So he aims to send Timothy to do the job. And he revealingly mentions the fact that Timothy is about the only one he can trust to do the job. All his other companions and colleagues are too busy with their own affairs and have lost sight of the bigger picture.
Self centredness is not a recent invention: it has always been with us. It is the essence of what the Bible elsewhere calls “sin”. An urge to put oneself at centre stage and declare independence from the commands of God. We end up living in our own bubble of self: our interests, our concerns, our comfort are what matters most.
Back in the 1500’s, a man called Copernicus stirred up trouble by suggesting that the sun didn’t revolve around the earth, but the earth actually revolved around the sun. His views were soundly rejected, even by the church. How dare anyone suggest that the planet inhabited by human beings was not at the centre of the universe!
It is so hard for any of us to believe we do not belong at centre stage. We want the limelight, even if we aren’t pushy people. We want things to go our way, to have our own wishes granted. Such egocentricity can shape how we vote, how we treat our neighbours, how we minister in church. It takes a lifetime to learn that we are supporting acts rather than the starring player.